Tesco strike update -Friday, 10 February 2017

Your Union has just completed a ballot for industrial action in 23 Tesco stores.

The question on the ballot paper was simple and asked all union members employed in those stores whether they were prepared to engage in industrial action in support of their fellow union members employed on pre 1996 contracts who as you know are still being threatened with changes to their terms and conditions of employment without their agreement.

It is encouraging to report that in over 80% of these stores union members have decided to step up to the plate and in doing so will join in solidarity with their fellow union members on the picket lines from next Tuesday 14th February.

This in many ways is a remarkable and brave decision given the amount of negative time and energy that management have spent in trying to persuade members to vote no. It is amazing to witness management in some locations offering additional hours to workers to get them to attend meetings in order to have them vote against strike action.

It is clearly evident that the loyalty of the vast majority of union members in the stores already balloted will not be bought in such a crude and cheap fashion. Neither will they allow themselves to be bullied into doing something they know isn’t right.

They have the intelligence to look at the broader long term implications of how the company have relentlessly targeted pre-96 workers over the last year and in doing so they clearly understand that the potential for similar type behaviour in the future is greater if we all don’t make a stand now. In many ways we cannot afford the luxury of time for we run the real risk of leaving it till it’s too late to take action.

Since your union announced the commencement of strike action from next Tuesday it is clearly evident that popular opinion is with the workers. Yesterday we saw general support for the strike from across a broad range of political opinion.

We were also grateful to receive from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions a commitment of support from the 600K union members on the island of Ireland. The Irish Times ran a story  that stated that Mandate is right to strike. Further to this one has only to read the comments on many social media platforms to see that our strike has deep and broad support from many sections of Irish society.

Of course between now and Tuesday management will continue with their efforts to persuade workers to pass the pickets of their fellow union members. We know they have already made arrangements to transfer workers from other stores not impacted at this moment in order to break the strike. In one location they have promised to provide a bus so that they can bring strike breakers pass the picket lines through a back entrance.

The mere fact that you have to act in this way is a clear indication of how despicable and anti-worker this type of behaviour is. Whilst this type of deplorable behaviour might be acceptable in different cultures, we here in Ireland have always maintained a deep sense of morality and decency particularly when it comes to honouring the long established and proud tradition of respecting picket lines.

Starting next Tuesday I have no doubt that we will all stand up for each other and preserved these fine traditions by not passing or working behind official picket lines.

Over the past number of days the company have gone to great lengths to say the planned industrial action is unjustified because they have not at this time actually imposed any changes to pre-96 contracts. Today I have written to management offering them a simple way to avoid the strike which starts on Tuesday. All they have to do is to confirm to the union in writing that they will continue with this practice and not make any changes unless it is by agreement with your pre-96 fellow union members.

If they refuse this straight forward request it once again reinforces the reason why this dispute should be of concern to more than pre-96 workers. Whether the strike goes ahead is entirely in the hands of the company. If it does proceed they really have nobody to blame but themselves, although, no doubt, they will try.

Thanks again for your ongoing solidarity and support and remember; TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

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