Mandate update on Tesco strike – Monday, 13 Feb 2017
From tomorrow morning the 14th February pickets will be placed on selected Tesco stores in order to make a stand against the most profitable and wealthy retailer in this country making changes to the terms and conditions of its workers without their agreement. From next Friday 17th February more stores will join the picket lines and it is anticipated that others will follow in the very near future. If Tesco continue to aggressively break you and your Union then eventually all stores will be balloted for strike action.
Regardless of what spin is put on who is right or wrong in this dispute all Union members working in Tesco must reflect on the core objective of what your employer is trying to achieve with the pre 1996 contracts. They are attempting to create a culture whereby worker resistance to future attacks on terms and conditions of employment will be weakened to such an extent that they will inevitably happen.
If any Union member working in Tesco believes that they can conveniently ignore this truth and choose not to support the dispute that starts tomorrow then through their actions they will assist management in their objectives and hasten the day when the next range of wage cuts and alterations to working patterns and duties will be announced by the company. The time to deal with this reality is not when you are staring it in the face rather you need to make a stand now to ensure that management don’t even think about engaging in such behaviour in the future. Project Black has not gone away, it’s still very much in the background, and it remains the greatest challenge to the maintenance of decent working conditions for all Tesco workers both now and in the future.
Over the past number of days management have challenged your fellow Union members absolute right to reject a Labour Court recommendation. To attack the Union and its members in this way is nothing less than barefaced cheek when you consider that the Company have still not paid a 2% pay increase due to pre 96 workers since 2015, and remarkably this was awarded by the Labour Court. It would appear that the argument around the importance of adhering to Labour Court recommendations only applies selectively as far as the Company is concerned.
Much emphasis has also been placed on the reality that when pickets are placed from tomorrow morning the Tesco business will suffer and non-union retailers will benefit. By their very nature strikes are not easy and pain will be felt by all sides. It seems remarkable that Tesco still looks for the recognition and privileges that come from being a unionised employment even though their actions over the past 12 months leading up to this dispute have been more like the non-union retailers they fear losing business to. Only today management have restated that one of their main objectives in targeting pre 96 workers is to create a more equal workforce. Listen to this message carefully. This can only be done one or two ways you either bring everybody up to the highest rate of pay or you bring down the highest rate to the lowest most common rate. You don’t have to guess which approach is favoured by the Company. Your Union has already served a claim which we are determined to pursue to ensure that all terms and conditions are equalised upwards and not downwards.
If we are to achieve these objectives then all Union members must stay strong and united and this starts by embracing and supporting tomorrow mornings strike action. This means that picket lines must be fully respected and not passed. Remember your Union only has one purpose which is to protect and grow your terms and conditions of employment into the future. Our main priority is and always will be you the members. On Friday last I wrote to the Company offering a real and genuine way of avoiding the strike which is about to take place. As I speak to you they haven’t shown either the Union or you its members the courtesy of a response.
The reason for this is because they really don’t want to negotiate a settlement to the pre 96 dispute instead they want to take these workers on and crush them into defeat. Make no mistake about if they are successful they will quickly move to their next target. It’s now up to you the members to stand together to ensure that they will not succeed and that we will win the fight for worker respect and decency in Tesco Ireland for many years to come. We cannot let slip away what it has taken many years of hard negotiations to achieve. The time has now come for you and your fellow members to decide and remember… TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER