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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Shutterstock/Robson90 File photo of a Tesco Express in Dublin
security guards

Tesco security staff given extra week to decide between severance and moving to new company

Earlier this month almost 100 Tesco security workers were told their jobs could be lost by the end of February.

SECURITY STAFF WORKING with Tesco have been given an extra week to choose between a severance package and transferring to another company as negotiations continue between trade union officials, Tesco and OCS security services.

Earlier this month almost 100 Tesco security workers were told their jobs could be lost by the end of February as the company prepares to outsource their roles to OCS security services.

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

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 were given until 1 March to choose which option they will take. Staff members have since been granted an extra week to make their decision, The Journal has confirmed.

Officials from Mandate trade union are meeting with OCS representatives today to discuss the terms and conditions of the contracts that will be offered to employees who move to the company.

Mandate officials will meet with Tesco officials tomorrow, the second such meeting in the last week. Mandate also met with Tesco management last Thursday.

At the meeting tomorrow, Mandate officials will “seek assurances regarding the safeguarding of our members terms and conditions of employment, as a result of the company’s announcement”, a spokesperson told The Journal.

When asked for comment about employees’ concerns, a spokesperson for Tesco Ireland said the deadline for a decision by staff members on their future working arrangements has been extended to Tuesday 8 March “following constructive engagement with the trade unions last week”.

The spokesperson noted that OCS has been Tesco Ireland’s security partner for over a decade, “supplying two-thirds of our security and the best possible levels of expertise through its officers”.

“As security has become more specialised and challenging in recent years, we are extending our relationship with OCS to provide all our security needs,” they added.

“We continue to engage with our colleagues in the first instance in relation to any proposed change that relates to them and with trade union representatives. There are no redundancies or job losses arising from this change.”

Job losses

Trade unions have disputed this point about job losses, saying that accepting the severance package amounts to a person being made redundant.

The Tesco spokesperson said the remaining security workers, who are spread across 68 stores and shopping centres, “will transfer to OCS where they will receive specialist training, further development, and security career opportunities”.

However, employees and trade unions have raised concerns that 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.

Tesco’s spokesperson noted that – as set out under the European Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings (Tupe) Regulations 2003 – security officers will transfer “on the same terms and conditions, retaining their contracted hours, rate of pay, and store location, unless agreed otherwise with OCS with continuity of service maintained”.

The spokesperson added that staff members who transfer to OCS “will be provided with a compensation payment to account for Tesco specific benefits that cannot transfer” such as Tesco staff discounts.

However, they did not mention details of any pension benefits.

‘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 last week he was “completely shocked” when his manager told him the news.

“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.”

*Name changed to keep interviewee anonymous