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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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More than 2,000 Marks & Spencer workers on strike today over pensions

The majority of the 17 Marks and Spencer stores around the country are closed today as staff take industrial action.

Updated 10:38

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Workers outside the Marks & Spencer on Henry Street in Dublin this morning (Image: Chris Murphy).

MORE THAN 2,000 Marks & Spencer employees across the country are on strike today over major changes to the company’s pension scheme.

The majority of the 17 M&S stores across Ireland are closed as a result of the action. Two further strike days are planned for the coming weeks.

Workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike after the company closed the employee defined benefit pension scheme on 31 October.

Marks and Spencer is also proposing to cut employee pay in a range of areas, including the elimination of the Christmas bonus usually paid to workers and a reduction in the Sunday and public holiday premium.

Trade unions representing workers said the strike is a bid to protect the long-established terms and conditions of employment which the company is trying to erode.

“Our members do not want to be on strike in the run up to Christmas but unfortunately the behaviour of their employer has forced their hand,” said Gerry Light of Mandate, which represents the vast majority of workers.

imageThe picket at outside the Dundrum store in Dublin today (Image: Declan Clancy).

Mandate says the pension scheme is performing and has a surplus of €17 million but M&S disputes this and says the figure is ‘unrealistic’; a spokesperson last night said an independent review of the scheme by Deloitte showed the scheme actually had a deficit of €12.6 million.

“M&S has had to make some very difficult decisions to protect the long-term good of our business in the Republic of Ireland,” the spokesperson said.

“We have engaged fully and fairly with the unions throughout the entire process and it is unacceptable for them to mislead our employees and customers in this way in order to gain support for this disruptive strike action.”

We will not be put off course by the threat of industrial action.

Earlier this year the company announced that four of its Irish stores were to close with the loss of 180 jobs.

Read: Four ‘unprofitable’ M&S stores to close with the loss of 180 jobs >

Read: Marks & Spencer staff to strike next Saturday >

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