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# Job Losses
'Good job in the pandemic lads, now you're gone': Tesco security guards shocked at job losses
Almost 100 Tesco security workers face losing their jobs by the end of the month.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 16th 2022, 12:05 AM

SECURITY GUARDS SET to lose their jobs at Tesco stores around Ireland in the coming weeks have said they feel “abandoned” by the company.

Almost 100 Tesco security workers were last week told their jobs could be lost by the end of the month as the company prepares to outsource their roles to OCS security services.

The workers in question were called into meetings on 8 February and presented with three options – a severance payment; redeployment to other positions in their store, if available; or a transfer to OCS security services.

The employees say they have been given until 1 March to choose which option they will take.

A number of security guards said they worked throughout the pandemic – at times being verbally abused and spat on – and have now been made to feel “worthless” and “disposable”.

Mandate trade union has said the deadline put to workers for a decision on their future is “unrealistic” and “disrespectful”.

Representatives from Mandate are due to meet with Tesco officials to discuss the situation on Thursday. Mandate said some of the employees affected have worked with Tesco for more than 30 years.

Jonathan Hogan, Mandate Assistant General Secretary, said the news came as a “massive shock” to workers last week.

“The shock is just huge, people were called into the meeting before 9am [on 8 February] without any warning.

“Ninety-six workers could lose their jobs. But it’s a multiple of that number in terms of how many people are affected – their family members are affected too, people’s livelihoods are at stake,” Hogan told The Journal.

People who work in the grocery sector haven’t seen a lockdown – they’ve worked through the whole pandemic. The security guards are usually the first people you see when you go into the shop and the last people you see when you leave. They’ve worked through the pandemic, keeping everyone safe.

At the meeting with Tesco officials tomorrow, Hogan said Mandate will work to “negotiate a settlement to the satisfaction of workers”.

The trade union has written to OCS Ireland to request a meeting to discuss the pay, conditions and benefits that will be offered to workers.

“We’re not aware of what pension provision would be in place, for example, or if people could be transferred from store to store,” Hogan said.

When asked what reason Tesco gave for the move, Hogan said: “There has been no justification for this, they haven’t given any reason. They are a profitable retailer.”

He added that since the news was made public last week, there has been an “overwhelming response” in terms of both public and political support.

Tesco, which operates across the UK and Ireland, made profits of about €3 billion in 2021, according to figures released in January.

In the Republic, sales rose by 0.3% over the Christmas period, compared to the previous year, but declined by 3.3% in the third quarter of 2021. Sales in Ireland in the 19 weeks to 8 January amounted to about €1.1 billion, slightly lower than the same period 12 months ago.

‘We feel worthless’

One security guard who has worked with Tesco for almost 20 years, since he was a teenager, said the sudden nature of recent events makes him and other security guards feel “abandoned” and “disposable” by the company.

John* told The Journal he was “completely shocked” when his manager told him the news last week.

“I was told I had three options: “a severance package; a job in the store, if there is one available – and ‘if’ is the big word there; or your contract passes over to OCS”.

John said the severance package offers people five weeks’ pay for every year they have worked for Tesco. However, he said he was told that not everyone who applies for the package will get it.

John said the severance package may suit some people who are older but as he is in his mid-30s, recently bought a house and is due to get married this summer, that is simply not an option for him.

No matter what money they would have shown me, it was going to be a no to be honest. I’m getting married this year, I am just after buying a house with my partner and I’ve a young son. A severance package is not what I need, I need money coming in.

Given the lack of options available to him, John is veering towards moving to OCS. However, he is concerned that he will not get as many hours as he currently does.

If this happens, it would “drastically affect” his ability to pay his mortgage.

“I feel railroaded. We haven’t been told a thing, we don’t know anything. I have literally no other option than to go to OCS if it does come to it because I need my money coming in.

“I’ve worked for this company since I was 16 years of age, I literally do not know anything else other than this company. And that’s the scariest thing to be honest.”

shutterstock_1592502709 Shutterstock / Robson90 File photo of a Tesco Express in Dublin Shutterstock / Robson90 / Robson90

John has worked in the same Leinster Tesco store for almost two decades. He said the sudden nature of recent events makes him and other security guards feel “abandoned” and “disposable”.

“It makes us feel worthless. I’ve been frontline for that shop for the last two years during the pandemic, standing out in the freezing cold there for hours on end, doing crowd control, keeping people safe.

My father was sick as well and because I was working in the shop, I couldn’t even go and visit him. I was very worried I’d bring Covid into the house. When I’d get home from work, I’d wash myself down before I’d play with the little lad.

John said his job became more difficult during the pandemic and, on a number of occasions, people spat on him.

“I had people spit on me and everything during that time. And then we’re basically told, ‘Yeah, you did a good job there lads, now you’re gone’.”


John’s finacée Marie* described the situation as “disgraceful”. She said that accepting the severance package is not financially viable for the couple due to their mortgage repayments and other bills.

However, opting to move to OCS will mean staff members lose out on the Tesco pension scheme and other benefits such as their staff discount and lunches.

“My fiancé has been a loyal employee of this company for almost two decades and without any warning whatsoever he has been faced with this disgraceful situation.

“The severance package is limited and will force most of these people to seek alternative employment or to accept OCS as their new employer. In our own case my fiancé cannot possibly accept his severance package.

“We bought a house in recent years and he’s only in his mid-30s. He simply isn’t at a point in his life where this is a financially viable option.”

Marie said workers’ job security will also be “severely compromised”.

“There is nothing to stop Tesco from changing security companies in future, leaving these people on rather unsure footing as to whether or not they have a job. There’s also no guarantee that they will be based in the store that they are currently employed in.”

She noted that security guards were among the supermarket personnel to work “in desperately difficult conditions as we all navigated our way through the pandemic”.

“Whilst many of us could safely work from home my fiancé and these other security guards were going out of the house to work … ensuring safety and providing a continuity of service so that people could buy groceries and feed their families.

“They were our frontline workers that we clapped for and thanked. Now, Tesco responds by outsourcing their jobs, tearing away job security and all of their Tesco benefits.”

The Journal contacted Tesco Ireland and OCS Ireland for comment but had not received a reply prior to publication.

‘Enormous stress’

Speaking about the situation on Monday, Siptu Sector Organiser Martin O’Rourke said Tesco management must “defer any decision on this matter and enter into serious negotiations on the future of [employees'] roles”.

“These security workers worked throughout the height of the pandemic, often placing their own health and safety on the line to protect customers and colleagues. It is completely unacceptable that they are being treated in this manner by the company.”

James McGrath, a Tesco security worker and Siptu member, has worked in the Tesco store in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, for 17 years.

“Last Tuesday (8 February), I was called into the office by my store manager and was informed that Tesco had decided to outsource myself and my contract to a private security company,” he said.

“To say I was shocked is an understatement. I worked throughout the pandemic, which included a lot of dangerous situations during which I endured verbal abuse and threats. Tesco security workers were really on the frontline during the pandemic.

“I and many of my colleagues have now been placed under enormous stress about our futures and the livelihoods of our families. My Tesco colleagues in other roles have been very supportive and do not believe it is fair that security workers have been singled out to be treated in such a disgraceful manner.”

*Names changed to keep interviewees anonymous

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