shock and awe

Tesco is 'shocked' at unions suggesting that members 'shop with their conscience'

‘Indefinite’ industrial action is due to begin at some Tesco stores from Tuesday 14 February.

File Photo Tesco strike to go ahead tomorrow over plans by the company to reduce their pay and conditions. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

IN THE LATEST twist to what is becoming an increasingly bitter industrial dispute, Tesco has expressed its ‘shock’ at unions suggesting that members ‘shop with their conscience’.

Earlier today, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) held a briefing in which Mandate’s John Douglas had encouraged members to follow their own judgement when it came to personal shopping. He was deliberately avoiding the word ‘boycott’, he said.

Ictu also claimed that certain Tesco staff members have received letters from the company offering assistance to those members in leaving their union.

This evening Tesco has fired back saying in a statement that as “the only food retailer to recognise trade unions in all of its stores… we are shocked that trade union leaders are urging union workers to shop in non-unionised stores”.

The retail giant has been calling repeatedly in recent days for Mandate, which represents about 11,000 of Tesco’s 14,000-strong Irish workforce, to abandon its plans for strike action and to accept the recommendations of the Labour Court, made last March, regarding the dispute.

The pending strike action, which will see nine stores initially close on Valentine’s Day followed by another five from 17 February, stems from attempts by the company to ‘unilaterally impose terms’ on its longest-serving workers, according to Mandate.

90373625_90373625 Mandate general secretary John Douglas Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The union claims this will see those workers bearing a 15% pay cut together together with seeing the terms and conditions of their contracts undermined.

“Tesco has followed all industrial relations procedures and processes and has worked with all the industrial relations machinery of the State over the past year in an effort to resolve (this dispute),” the company said in a statement, adding that Ictu’s actions are “regrettable”.

Tesco has accepted the Labour Court recommendation as an independent outcome. We believe the Ictu should use its authority to encourage Mandate to abide by the outcomes of the Labour Court and accept the recommendation which the union themselves had sought.
Tesco is the only employer in the food retail sector to recognise trade unions across all of its stores. We are further disappointed that Mandate continues to engage in a campaign of myths and misinformation to misguide our colleagues.

In a show of solidarity with the company, Irish business representative group Ibec said this evening that Mandate’s actions are “unjustified, unreasonable and in defiance of Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court recommendations”.

“This action by Mandate is extraordinary in its approach to a good employer who has complied with all procedures and who needs to react to the changing retail environment,” said Ibec director of employer relations Maeve McElwee.

Tesco must ensure the competitiveness and sustainability of their business. Mandate should now accept the recommendation of the Labour Court and should withdraw from this industrial action as it can only do damage.

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