Mandate begins to ballot Tesco workers for industrial action

Tesco's revenues are up across the board

Mandate begins balloting members following retailer's decision to move 1,000 workers who have been with the business since before 1996 onto a different contract

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5 April 2016 | 0

More than 12,000 Mandate trade union members in Tesco Ireland are to be balloted for industrial action over the coming weeks, following what Mandate describes as Tesco’s refusal “to accept a Labour Court recommendation” to give all workers a 2% pay rise.

Instead, the trade union claims Tesco is “now attempting to force significant wage cuts on a large number of staff members”, and subsequently began its ballot for industrial action on Tuesday, 5 April.

The Labour Court issued an recommendation on 19 February which said all workers in Tesco are entitled to a 2% pay increase and a share bonus payment.

However according to Mandate, Tesco has since told more than 1,000 of its workers who joined the supermarket before 1996 they will not receive the 2% pay increase and will instead be forced to take pay cuts of at least 15% from 18 April 2016. Further changes to workers’ conditions of employment include cuts to hours at work, changes to work patterns and loss of bonuses, according to Mandate.

Tesco Ireland currently employs up to 14,500 workers in 149 stores in the Republic of Ireland and while the company does not publish its Irish profits, Mandate estimates the company is making up to €250m in profits annually.

Mandate general secretary John Douglas expressed concerns at the motivations for these cuts saying he believes “Irish workers are being expected to pay for bad investments and accounting scandals associated with the parent company in Britain last year”.

However Tesco Ireland responded that it has already paid a 1.5% cash lump sum to eligible employees in keeping with the spirit of the Labour Court recommendation. According to the retail giant, 1,000 workers who joined the business before 1996 are being moved onto a new contract in order to “unlock inflexibility in the business”.

A spokeswoman described Mandate’s position as “really disappointing”, given that “the vast majority of our store colleagues have received the benefits of the recent Labour Court recommendation”.

She added that the pre-1996 contract  “doesn’t meet the needs of today’s customers and was agreed 20 years ago at a time when Sundays or late nights were not commonplace in retail”.

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