Mandate ask public to continue their strong support for striking Tesco workers

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Escalation of dispute could be avoided if Tesco agree not to unilaterally impose changed contracts on workers

The Mandate Trade Union has this evening thanked the public for their strong show of support for striking Tesco workers today and has asked them to continue their support over the coming days. The eight stores where the staff are currently on indefinite strike are located in Dublin, Kerry, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Wicklow. A further eight stores in Dublin, Monaghan and Wicklow will join the strike this coming Friday unless the dispute is resolved with a further 23 balloting for industrial action next week.

John Douglas, General Secretary, Mandate Trade Union, said that the striking workers have been very heartened by the support they have received.

“This morning staff at eight Tesco stores went on strike and a further eight will be joining them this coming Friday. Given the support the striking workers have received all day, the public clearly recognise the importance of the issues involved here – namely that Tesco Ireland, which has enormous economic power, is attempting to unilaterally impose changes to the contracts of employment for approximately 250 workers.

“If Tesco Ireland is successful with this move it would result in some workers experiencing reduced incomes of up to 20%. The company – which is the most profitable retailer in the country with estimated profits of more than €250 million annually – has never justified the cuts they are seeking to impose on workers who earn slightly more than €14 per hour.

“In recent days, Tesco Ireland have said that the strikes are not justified because they have not yet actually made the contractual changes. In response, last Friday, Mandate wrote to the management of Tesco Ireland saying that if they committed to not making changes to their staff’s contracts without agreement with them – rather than trying to impose change unilaterally – then the strike could be called off. Unfortunately, to date we have had no response from Tesco Ireland to our letter, however, we would urge them to engage with us so that further escalation of the dispute could be avoided.”

Mr Douglas said that the fact that the company have not responded to the union’s offer of talks leads him to the view that, unfortunately, Tesco Ireland management wants the strike to occur.

“No worker wants to go on strike, but our members recognise that if Tesco can get away with tearing up contracts of employment without agreement for pre-1996 staff, it’ll be the 3,000 workers on post-1996 contracts who are currently on a higher hourly rate of pay who will be next. That’s why we’ve seen such strong support from our members in these ballots for industrial action, particularly from those not affected by cuts, yet. They understand that together we are stronger,” John Douglas concluded.

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