Nine Tesco stores including Ballyfermot set for indefintie strike action from Valentine’s Day
Staff at nine Tesco stores, including Ballyfermot, are set to begin strike action from next Tuesday, 14 February, with Mandate Trade Union warning that the strike could continue for an “indefinite duration”.
Mandate, which represents more than 10,000 workers at the company, say the strike will initially involve 9 stores, but could escalate with a further 15 stores expected to ballot for industrial action tonight and tomorrow night.
According to the union, Tesco Ireland are attempting to force changes to contracts of employment without agreement for approximately 250 workers employed before 1996.
The new contracts would result in some workers experiencing reduced incomes of up to 15 percent along with increased ‘flexibility’.
Mandate say any attempts to change any workers’ conditions of employment without agreement will be resisted vigorously by their members.
The union say the company has never justified the cuts to their workers’ conditions of employment and Tesco’s actions are an abuse of power from a major multinational corporation against a small number of local workers who have given more than 20 years of loyal service.
Mandate General Secretary John Douglas said: “Tesco is the most profitable retailer in the Republic of Ireland with estimated profits of more than €200 million annually and has recently purchased the largest UK wholesaler Booker for €4.3 billion.
“The company has confirmed that dividend payments to shareholders will restart this year and their share price has gone up by 33 percent in six months.”
He continued: “Tesco workers in Ireland who have worked with the company for more than 21 years, and are already classified as low-paid on slightly more than €14 per hour, are being told to accept imposed changes to their contracts or get out the door.”
In response Tesco have urged the workers to accept the Labour Court Recommendations which they say has set out a path for resolution.
A statement from the company said: “Tesco has followed all industrial relations procedures and has exhausted the Industrial Relations mechanisms of the State over the past year in this dispute.
“We believe there is an onus on Mandate now to abide by the outcomes of the Labour Court after a Recommendation which the Union, themselves had sought.”
Tesco went on to say they are the only employer in the food retail sector to recognise trade unions, offering above market rates of pay, conditions, benefits and careers.
They also said that the pre-1996 terms and conditions were agreed over 21 years ago before late nights, Sunday openings and online shopping.
“We want to improve our customer service but these terms are no longer suitable as we have too many people working during the earlier quieter times of the week and this creates unfairness between colleagues. We have always said that we will compensate colleagues for this change.”
Speaking after the strike announcement by Mandate, Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, accused Tesco’s senior management of behaving irresponsibly in trying to strong arm changes to work practices and wages.
He said: “Tesco’s management have conveniently ignored a Labour Court recommendation for 1,000 of their 14,500 workers in Ireland, and now are trying to introduce plans for unilateral pay cuts of up to 15%, to change the working conditions of employment, the work patterns, and the bonus payments of long term staff.
“This is sharp practice and is unacceptable to the vast majority of their workers and that is why they have balloted for industrial action.”
The nine stores affected by the strike are:
- Tesco, Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2
- Tesco, Ballyfermot Rd, Ballyfermot Upper, Dublin 10
- Tesco, Vevay Road, Bray, Co Wicklow
- Tesco, Clearwater Shopping Centre, 11 Finglas Road, Dublin 11
- Tesco, Rear Main Street, Deanscurragh, Longford
- Tesco, Navan Town Centre, Kennedy Rd, Dillonsland, Navan, Co. Meath
- Tesco, O’Connell St, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
- Tesco, Manor West Retail Park, Ratass, Tralee, Co. Kerry
- Tesco, Tullamore Retail Park, Portarlington Road, Cloncollig, Tullamore, Co. Offaly