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Tesco and union still split as Valentine's Day strike looms large

Nine Tesco stores are set to go on strike on Tuesday 14 February.

90313949_90313949 Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 21.07

A UNION REPRESENTING 11,000 of Tesco’s Irish employees says it will call off the pending workers strikes if Tesco “commits not to make changes to contracts without agreement”.

Nine Tesco stores have voted to strike ‘indefinitely’ from this Tuesday over issues surrounding the contracts of the company’s longest-serving Irish workers.

A further nine stores will strike from 17 February.

Tesco has moved to impose newer ‘modern contracts’ on those employees remaining who have been employed since before 1996, claiming that those contracts are no longer fit for purpose.

Those contracts would see longer-term employees “experiencing reduced incomes of up to 20%,” Mandate’s general secretary John Douglas said this evening.

“In recent days, Tesco Ireland have said that the impending strikes are not justified because they have not yet actually made the contractual changes,” he said.

In response, last Friday Mandate wrote to the management of Tesco Ireland saying that if they committed to not making changes to their staff’s contracts without agreement with them – rather than trying to impose change unilaterally – then the strike due to start on Tuesday could be called off.

“Unfortunately, to date we have had no response from Tesco Ireland to our letter,” he added.

Tesco’s actions “constitute an abuse of the company’s considerable economic power” according to Douglas who added that “an important principle is at stake”.

Tesco’s response

Tesco responded this evening and does not seem to have changed its stance towards the pending industrial action.

“Tesco continues to call on Mandate to accept the recent Labour Court recommendation as the only means of resolving this dispute. The company is shocked that Mandate has organised strike action in a handful of our stores on Tuesday after the Union has rejected the outcome of the State’s industrial relations process which they had insisted on following,” the company said in a statement.

Tesco has not made any changes to the pre-1996 terms and conditions and the Labour Court recommendation sets out a clear path to resolving this issue and we call upon Mandate to now accept the Labour Court recommendation.
The company has followed all the industrial relations processes of the State to seek agreement. The recommendation protects colleagues’ rate of pay with 90 per cent actually getting a pay increase under the Labour Court proposals.
We believe now more than ever that there is an onus on Mandate to abide by the outcomes of the Labour Court which is the agreement the Union, had sought. Tesco continues to call on Mandate to re-think its plan to damage the company with an unjustified strike.

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