Message from John Douglas to all Mandate members in Tesco Ireland
I would like to update you on developments with Tesco. As you are aware in 2016 Tesco targeted over 1,200 of your pre 1996 colleagues and fellow union members and attempted to impose without agreement very significant cuts to their wages and conditions of employment. During this period Tesco applied immense pressure to these workers and a significant number left the company, feeling that they had little option but to accept redundancy terms. The 250 or so that remain are spread across 50 separate Tesco locations, and to date have managed to maintain their rates of pay despite all the pressure from the company. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court but the recommendation of the Court was not accepted by your fellow union members, which is their right. As a consequence, Tesco has announced that it intends to proceed to cut these workers’ wages, change their working patterns and reduce their benefits.
As a result, the workers concerned have voted in favour of strike action to protect their conditions of employment given Tesco’s stated intention to proceed with the cuts without agreement, initially we intend to conduct a ballot of all Mandate members for industrial action in impacted locations on a phased basis and depending on the outcome of these ballots, pickets will be placed on these locations.
This dispute is not about the remaining 250 pre 1996 workers, rather it’s about all Tesco workers and their terms and conditions both now and into the future, and it’s about you having an independent voice at work, you having a union that stands by your side. That is why Tesco is spending as much time attacking your union as it is attacking workers, they want your voice off the pitch so they can have a free run into the future, remember you are the union, an attack on the union is an attack on you.
Over 12 months ago just before Tesco commenced the pre 96 discussions your Union became aware that Tesco had engaged the services of a leading Law firm which specialises in union busting and union avoidance tactics, this explains much of the approach adopted by Tesco over the last 12 months and exposes their real agenda, they in their wisdom code named the project, “PROJECT BLACK”. In reality the aim was to manipulate the pre 96 discussions into a dispute which would remove and neutralise your voice, your union’s strength in the workplace. As sure as night follows day Tesco management will be around all stores propagating division and suggesting workers leave their union.
If Tesco can unilaterally impose severe cuts to wages and conditions and walk away from agreements, then you have to ask yourself who is next? Already over 3,000 existing Tesco workers across Ireland are earning higher hourly rates of pay than many of the remaining 250 and have set working patterns akin to the 250 targeted workers. So logic would suggest that these and all Tesco workers are in the company’s sights. This dispute is about the future of decent wages, fair shifts and work patterns within Tesco. Of the full time workers who have left by way of redundancy in the last year ask yourself how many full time jobs did Tesco create to replace them? The answer is none. The race to the bottom may have already started. If Tesco succeed, in the future they and they only will decide all your pay and conditions of employment based on what’s best for Tesco and their shareholders, not what’s best for workers.
Through the years Tesco workers in Ireland by sticking together in their union have negotiated and won all your terms and conditions of employment, staying united is now the only way of protecting your earnings and your future. “Project Black” will not succeed.
Yours in solidarity,
Mandate Trade Union