Tesco denies Mandate allegations of staff complaints
Retailer disputes Mandate report, stating it is "completely untrue to say that colleagues were told to remain at work when the store had closed"
17 October 2017
A storm of words has erupted between Tesco and Mandate trade union in the aftermath of ex-Hurricane Ophelia, with the retailer describing allegations made by the latter yesterday about staff welfare as “completely inaccurate” and “inappropriate”.
In a statement, which can be viewed here, Mandate said yesterday it was “receiving reports that workers have been told they will not be paid if they go home and are now working behind closed doors. Other workers are being told that their stores are only closed until 5pm.”
“Completely untrue,” says Tesco
However, a spokeswoman for Tesco told ShelfLife: “Mandate’s allegations are completely incorrect. All colleagues will be paid for yesterday regardless of whether they were able to get into work or not, all colleagues were encouraged to go home when the stores closed and where colleagues decided to stay to take shelter from the storm they were given complimentary food and drinks; and we supported all colleagues with their transport arrangements.
“By 10am yesterday we had closed stores in the South & South West, by noon we closed all stores in the South East, West and North West and by 1.30pm we announced the closure of all stores,” the spokeswoman added. “It is completely untrue to say that colleagues were told to remain at work when the store had closed. It is completely inappropriate for Mandate to make such false allegations on a day when the country came to a standstill and when our colleagues went that extra mile to support customers.”
In a letter to Tesco yesterday, Mandate assistant general secretary, Gerry Light said: “Tesco shouldn’t have put their worker’s health and safety on the line this morning. The very least management can do is to ensure that every worker is safe and is not out of pocket for the irresponsible behaviour of the company.”
“Manifestation of relations”
Speaking to ShelfLife today, Gerry Light said Mandate engaged with “a host of major retailers” yesterday morning to discuss their plans to deal with the red weather warning and that the response from 90% of them had been “extremely positive, putting the interests of staff first”.
He added he was “disappointed” Tesco had not contacted Mandate today to ask for further details regarding “specific allegations”.
Light said it was “a manifestation of relations” between the two organisations – following the trade union’s pickets outside Tesco stores earlier this year – that the retailer felt “no obligation” to engage with Mandate, despite having some 9,000 staff who are members, on what he felt was “a normal industrial relations matter”.