Trade union ‘very optimistic’ about future wage increases

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light is confident the union can achieve wage increases for 50% - 60% of its members
Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light

Mandate's assistant general secretary Gerry Light explains why he's confident the trade union can win pay increases for more of its members



8 August 2012

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After securing pay increases for Marks & Spencer and Tesco staff earlier this year, Mandate trade union’s assistant general secretary Gerry Light has said he is “very optimistic” the organisation can achieve further pay increases.

“We’re very hopeful that between 50% and 60% – certainly by the early part of next year – of our membership will have received some form of a pay award,” he told ShelfLife.

The union had already secured meetings with Penneys and Brown Thomas by the end of last month. Speaking to ShelfLife on 25 July, Light said a meeting with Penneys’ management appeared to have progressed well.  “We itemised our claim, they’ve gone away to consider that and will be back to us ASAP.”

He added that a meeting with Boots’ management would “hopefully take place in the next week to ten days”.

Yet at the time of our interview, Light was still “awaiting a response to his letter from Dunnes Stores.” On the topic of Dunnes, he said he “would probably not be as optimistic as I normally am” but was nevertheless determined to pursue the claim.

“There’s a specified time frame prescribed given our national agreement and in the event that we can’t move a national issue on, such as a pay claim, parties are obliged to go forward to the relevant third party, ie, the Labour Relations Court (LRC),” he added.

Light said he believed “the time has come for these claims because people are on relatively low pay of little over €20,000 a year, but are working harder than they were in the boom due to cuts in staff numbers and other cost savings."

However Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) chief executive David Fitzsimons said he was surprised by the rises as the industry was still in decline.

Discussing the difficulties faced by retailers, Light said: “We wouldn’t serve claims on some retailers because we are working very strenuously with some businesses who are clearly struggling and are in difficulty…It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to pursue them at this time but if the strategies that we’ve all agreed and put in place come to fruition, hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later”.


He added that he believed some retailers were clearly doing well however such as Penneys, which had “bucked the trend in respect of the current economic climate”. 



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