Mandate disappointed Tesco have not responded to proposals tabled at talks

If proposals accepted, union would have suspended industrial action 

The Mandate Trade Union has this morning expressed its disbelief and disappointment at Tesco Ireland’s failure to respond – to date – to proposals tabled by Mandate Trade Union at their talks last Friday. John Douglas, the union’s General Secretary, said that if Tesco Ireland had accepted Mandate’s proposals then it would have brought about an immediate suspension of the current industrial action.

At present, the staff at 16 Tesco stores in Dublin, Kerry, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly and Wicklow are on strike with staff in a further 23 stores being balloted this week to join the industrial action.

John Douglas explained that at the talks with Tesco Ireland management held last Friday, the union tabled written proposals in a genuine effort to achieve a breakthrough in the current dispute between the parties.

“Firstly, we acknowledged that it is important to create an environment where Tesco Ireland and Mandate can engage in negotiations to bring about an agreed resolution of the current dispute. In this context, we said that Labour Court Recommendation LCR21340 as currently written does not have sufficient potential to achieve an agreed outcome.

“Secondly, we suggested that Tesco Ireland and Mandate should commit to recommencing immediate negotiations – without prejudice to either party’s position – on a number of relevant issues central to this long running dispute

“Thirdly, to ensure that the negotiations are conducted in an atmosphere conducive to reaching agreement, the union said that we would agree to suspend the current industrial action and that the company should refrain from imposing any changes to existing terms and conditions,” Mr Douglas said.

“Tesco Ireland management responded by stating that they needed more time to consider the union’s proposal, however, nearly three days later they have failed to do so. Such a lack of urgency and unwillingness to engage raises the legitimate question as to whether the company really wants to find a resolution to the current dispute or is there a bigger and more significant objective they are trying to achieve on the back of the pre-‘96 contract dispute.

“Over the past number of weeks the Union revealed the existence of a Company initiative called ‘Project Black’ which we believe is essentially a union busting plan conceived by Tesco Ireland. The behaviour of management at and following the negotiations last Friday strongly supports the view that the union’s interpretation of ‘Project Black’ has been correct all along.”

John Douglas said that this latest behaviour of the company must also seriously raise the question as to whether the senior management team here in Ireland are complying with their fiduciary obligations of not acting recklessly when it comes to protecting the long term interests of the Tesco Ireland business, its 14,000 staff and its loyal customers.

“It would appear that they have made all these considerations secondary to their blind desire to rid themselves of Mandate Trade Union from their business.”

John Douglas called on the Tesco Ireland to immediately engage on the proposal document presented by the Union at last Friday’s talks. Failing such a commitment he said the pickets will remain on the 16 stores currently on strike and these remain strong largely due to the massive support shown by the public for the striking workers.

“Contrary to what Tesco Ireland have been spinning, most impacted stores are experiencing a loss in sales of over 80%,” John Douglas concluded.

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