Mandate Update: Tesco workers push for national protest

Mandate members in Tesco Ireland are seeking a national protest with the potential for an escallation to industrial action if Tesco management continue to deny workers their right to representation.

Full statement by Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary:

In April of this year your pay and benefits claim for 2019 was launched. No doubt you are already aware of the details contained in the claim which are.

  • The creation of one equal pay scale which has the effect of moving everybody upwards in relation to what they currently earn.
  • Fairer scheduling for a better work life balance which means greater certainty over working patterns which means everyone gets a minimum a 4 week roster.
  • The creation of 1,000 full time jobs.
  • And most importantly to get your employer Tesco Ireland to fully respect and comply with all existing collective agreements negotiated in the past with your union, which means they accept your right to be individually and collectively represented by your union.

Make no mistake this last demand which calls for respect and dignity in the workplace is critical because without it your voice at work will be weakened over a surprisingly short period of time until it is silenced and ignored altogether. Of course management will tell you that you don’t need this power and that you are already in a great place to work. Over the past three years as Tesco have tried to derecognise your union you have all seen examples to show that nothing could be further from the truth.

As part of the campaign to support your current claim we gave each one of you the opportunity to individually endorse it. This you have done in your thousands, in fact your response has been exceptional and certainly without precedent. Not surprisingly despite being requested by your union to engage around the issues contained in the claim Tesco senior management have refused.

Last year a large group of key union activists from various Tesco stores around the country met to consider where we are in respect of your claim and what is required as a next step to achieve its objectives. It’s true to say that the mood at the meeting was a mixture of anger and determination. By a unanimous decision it was agreed that one final letter should be sent to the company requesting engagement on your claim.

In the event of the company continuing to ignore this reasonable request then the union should commence arrangements for a national public protest led by you the members supported by families, friends, communities, other trade unionists and political representatives. The main purpose of the protest will be to highlight the unacceptable way that Tesco have treated the Union and you its members over the past 3 years. Furthermore, it was unanimously decided that if this action does not bring Tesco to the negotiating table then we convene a national shop stewards meeting to discuss and decide on further actions up to and including industrial action at a time and manner of our choosing.

Whilst it is hoped that neither of these two actions will be necessary, if the behaviour of your employer over the past 3 years is anything to go by, then we must start to seriously make arrangements for them to happen and this work coordinated by your Shop Stewards, House Committees, Organisers and Officials will commence immediately at local store level.

At this stage we have taken all of the reasonable steps to try and get your employer to meaningfully engage with you through your union. It is clear after nearly 3 years that they are determined not to do so, equally you must be determined to show that you will not be treated like this any longer and that collectively you are prepared to bring your fight for respect and decency at work to a new level. This is what the thousands of union members who have endorsed the current claim want and whilst your employer thinks they can just ignore this reasonable demand your union does not and that’s why together we should be all determined to do something to bring about positive and lasting change for you and your fellow union members employed in Tesco Ireland.

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER

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