TESCO IRELAND IS to ask all staff who have been with the company for more than 20 years to sign up to new contracts in a series of new personnel moves.
The company, which has been locked in a battle with Super Valu for top spot in the Irish supermarket wars for some time, is asking all staff who have been working there since before 1996 to sign up to contracts for greatly-reduced pay.
Specifically, the new contracts will see affected staff being paid up to €3 less per hour than they are earning at present according to some of those affected.
The retailer confirmed to TheJournal.ie this evening that it is in the process of redrafting the contracts of its workers with the longest service, saying that the “pre-1996 contract doesn’t meet the needs of today’s customers”.
The company argues that the current contracts that long-term employees are on were negotiated at a time when stores didn’t open on Sundays or late nights.
“We have today briefed colleagues that we are entering into discussions with trade unions with a view to moving colleagues from the pre-1996 contract to our modern contract which we agreed with trade unions in 2006 and covers the majority of our colleagues,” the company said in a statement.
We hope to commence discussions with trade unions immediately.
The measures being proposed will not affect those at management level who have worked for the company for a similar period of time, however.
Tesco says that the differences in the new rates of pay will be offset by compensation for those moving to new contracts.
We will work out the details of the compensation for loss of earnings in the coming weeks.
The modern contract offers market leading rates of pay and benefits.
Roughly 6% of Tesco’s Irish workforce comprises workers with greater than 20 years service.
A spokesman for the Tesco workers’ union, Mandate, confirmed to TheJournal.ie that new contracts are to be offered to long-term staff.
“It’s all true – there’s a whole range of different issues that are being touched upon, but huge cuts in pay and no Christmas bonus for long-term staff are two of them,” he said.
Mandate have written to Tesco demanding that they engage with the union over these new contracts.
“It’s a remarkable way to be treating loyal staff,” said the Mandate spokesman.
Tesco is still the most successful and most profitable supermarket in the country – this is a new way of doing business for them.
Normally we have agreements with them. Our message now is clear – we don’t believe that this should go ahead without negotiation.
We want them to negotiate with us and to stop dealing in this heavy-handed manner.
It is not the first unpopular move the retail giant has made towards Irish employees – last May the company’s Christmas bonus, which typically stood at about €250, was cancelled for all employees with less than 20 years service.
Tesco confirmed to TheJournal.ie this evening that such bonuses are no longer paid to any staff.
That move was made, according to the company, due to “competitive market conditions”.
The “market conditions” being referenced were the company posting its biggest ever financial loss last April – an enormous €9.37 billion.
Mandate suggest that if the new contracts do come in in their suggested guise it may lead to a raft of early-retirements.