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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

We believe Tesco workers deserve better – do you?

Tesco members of Mandate Trade Union lodged a claim for improvements to pay and conditions of work for all Tesco workers on Wednesday, 3rd April 2019.

The claim would dramatically improve living standards for Tesco workers, including pay increases, fairer scheduling, full time jobs and a voice at work.

Pay Increases & The Living Wage

All new employees in Tesco start on an hourly rate of €10.56, but where an employer can afford it, like Tesco, workers should be paid the Living Wage of €11.90 per hour.

The Living Wage is determined by an independent technical group comprising of researchers, academics and economists and it seeks to “provide an adequate income to enable individuals to afford a socially acceptable minimum standard of living.”

As we all know, the cost of living in Ireland is extremely high, with housing costs rising by more than 80% since their lowest point in 2013. Meanwhile, most Tesco workers’ wages have only grown by 8%.

The Living Wage has already been paid by some of Tesco’s competitors including Lidl, Aldi and IKEA. Tesco can easily afford to pay it too.

Two separate surveys of thousands of Mandate members in Tesco indicated that “pay equality” is at the top on their agenda, with more than 90% supporting it. In order to achieve pay equality, we need to move workers towards one pay scale, as proposed by Mandate below.

Screenshot 2019-05-22 at 10.59.00

While Tesco management would prefer to harmonise workers’ pay downwards, which is already on their agenda (see pre-1996 dispute), the 2019 Pay & Benefits Claim would move all workers up to the highest point on the pre-2006 pay scale of €15.49 per hour. When you factor in a pay increase for 2019, that figure becomes €16 per hour.

What does this mean for you? Here are a few examples.

  • If you were employed after 2006 and you work 30 hours per week, it will mean an extra:
    • + €3.05 per hour
    • + €91.50 per week
    • + €4,758 per year.
  • If you were employed before 2006 and you work 35 hours per week, it mean an extra:
    • + €0.51 per hour
    • + €17.85 per week
    • + €928.20 per year

Here’s a chart that should help any post 2006 workers to calculate what increase you would be entitled to should the claim be successful.

Hourly benefit 20 hours 25 hours 30 hours 35 hours 40 hours Potential annual benefit
Year 1 €1.34 €26.80 €33.50 €40.20 €46.90 €53.60 €2,787.20
Year 2 €2.44 €48.80 €61.00 €73.20 €85.40 €97.60 €5,075.20
Year 3 €3.02 €60.40 €75.50 €90.60 €105.70 €120.80 €6,281.60
Year 4 €2.05 €41.00 €51.25 €61.50 €71.75 €82.00 €4,264.00
Year 6 €3.05 €61.00 €76.25 €91.50 €106.75 €122.00 €6,344.00

Is the Claim affordable for Tesco Ireland?

Tesco do not disclose their profits in Ireland. Instead they hide them within their UK figures. However, we can estimated profits using data from the Central Statistics Office and Eurostat, while also taking into account how they are doing across the UK and Ireland combined.

One indicator of how the company is doing is contained in a newspaper headline on 11th April 2019:

Tesco’s £2.2bn profit beats expectations on turnaround.”

The article continued:

“Releasing full-year results, Tesco said that its sales rose 11.3% to £56.9bn (€66.1bn) in the 12 months to February on a constant currency basis, while its operating profit surged 33.5% to £2.2bn (€2.5bn).”

In Ireland, its retail revenue, came to €2.68bn for 2018, compared to €2.57bn in the previous year, an extra €110 million.

The Irish chief executive, Kari Daniels, said the company had “increased volumes, transactions and basket sizes.”

So who is benefiting from these improvements? It seems senior executives are taking more than their fair share of the profits.

Earlier this month it was annouced that Tesco’s CEO Dave Lewis earned €5.21 million in 2018. For context, it would take a Tesco Ireland worker more than 200 years to earn what the CEO earned in just one year. That’s obscene.

Workers Wages

As for shareholders, they’re also getting their cut. Another article published in April stated: “Tesco doubles annual dividend as profits surge by a third.”

Tesco Performance

It is estimated that the company is generating between €250m and €370m in profit from its Irish operations. The full cost of implementing the Pay and Benefits Claim would come to approximately €37m, meaning the company would be required to share only 10-15% of its profits with its workers.

TescoProfitsvWages

It is clear that Tesco is a highly profitable employer, generating enormous profits, dividends and generous pay packets for its executives, so it can certainly share some of those profits with its workers if it wished to. It won’t succumb without pressure from union members though.

Tesco’s strategy to date has been to divide workers and play one group against the other. They pitted pre-1996 workers against post-1996 workers where they are refusing to pay some workers an 8% pay increase.

Once Tesco have finished with this group of workers, they will go after the next cohort, the pre-2006 group who now earn €1.18 per hour more than the pre-1996 workers. After that, it’s the post-2006 group.

The Pay & Benefits Claim for 2019 is fair and achievable provided all workers stay united in their Union. Of course management will tell you that it is not possible. Obviously it’s in their interests to keep workers’ pay low. They will probably offer a 2% or a 3% pay increase which is entirely insufficient for a company making the enormous profits that Tesco are.

Next Steps

If you believe Tesco workers are entitled to better pay and conditions of employment, and you support the Pay & Benefits Claim for 2019, you can click here to express your support.

Together we are stronger.

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www.joinmandate.ie

Join the campaign for better work in Tesco

Dear Tesco worker & Mandate member,

Just a reminder that your union Mandate launched the 2019 Pay and Benefits Claim for all Tesco members in March of this year. Remarkably almost 60% of our members in Tesco have signed up in support of the claim. Just think about that for a moment that’s almost 6,000 workers!

It is crucially important, if we want to achieve the objectives contained within the claim, that all Tesco workers endorse them in a show of strength to the company.

From the very start the claim attracted significant support from amongst the members and as the weeks go by the word has spread about the claim along with an understanding of how it will improve the living standards of all Tesco workers which is the reason why and more and more members are endorsing it.

We are certain that the momentum achieved so far will continue however you cannot leave it to your fellow members to do the heavy lifting for you and that is why if you haven’t endorsed the claim so far you should do so today by clicking here: www.tinyurl.com/tesco2019. After all everyone will benefit therefore it is only fair that everyone takes the opportunity to support and drive the claim to a successful outcome.

Mandate will be hosting meetings and will be escalating the claim over the coming months and we look forward to your continued support.

Yours in solidarity,

Gerry Light

Mandate Assistant General Secretary

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Tesco pay campaign receives huge support

Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light gives an update on the pay & benefits campaign to date. Sign the endorsement here.

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Hello

I want to give you a quick update on your 2019 pay and benefits claim that was served on your employer Tesco Ireland just over 3 weeks ago. In that short period of time thousands of you have shown your support for the claim by endorsing it through the various means that we have made available. Indeed it would not be an over statement to say that the response so far is beyond what has ever been achieved before.

It is clear from this reaction that you and your fellow union members employed in Tesco Ireland believe in what the claim is trying to achieve. You want the right to determine what you think are the most appropriate terms and conditions for the job you do and importantly in this regard you are not prepared any longer to have a highly profitable employer make these crucial decisions for you. You should not doubt the ability of the Tesco business to afford your claim as only last week the media was full of reports outlining a 22% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.6 billion on the back of sales that have risen 12% to £64.5 billion. It’ about time your employer not only recognises but rewards staff for the vital role they have played in delivering these impressive results. Your support for the claim also indicates that you want the introduction of greater equality of treatment, particularly when it comes to pay.

Regrettably but not surprisingly you employer so far has not responded to two letters sent by your union requesting a meeting to consider the claim. Against this reality the question is quite simple. Are you and your fellow union members who work in Tesco Ireland prepared to be treated in such a dismissive fashion? If the answer is no then make sure you endorse the claim now and encourage others to do so.

Be under no illusion every time we receive an additional individual endorsement from you the members your claim is strengthened even further and it becomes more possible to achieve. So the message is clear, if you haven’t done so already endorse the claim today. You cannot leave this to your fellow union members to do because after all everybody will benefit when we successfully deliver on the various aspects of the claim.

Remember you can endorse the claim in the following ways

  • By clicking on the Tesco Workers Together website
  • By completing the section of the text that was sent to your mobile
  • By requesting a hard copy from your Shop Steward, Union Official or Organiser

Even though we have had a brilliant start to your pay and benefits campaign it now time to drive it on to the next level. Despite the huge response so far by you the members we now need to ensure that we obtain the biggest amount of individual endorsements possible. I am confident we will achieve this outcome and when we do it will send a clear message to your employer that you the workers are determined to win the best terms and conditions achievable through direct and meaningful negotiations with your Union. And remember by endorsing the campaign you clearly prove

Together we are Stronger.

Mandate launch Tesco Pay & Benefits Claim for 2019


Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light is today (Wednesday, 3rd April 2019) launching the 2019 Tesco Pay & Benefits Claim. All Tesco workers are encouraged to view the claim and support it by signing the linked petition. You can view the claim here and sign the petition here.

Full text of Mr Light’s video below…


“Hello

It’s that time of year again when your union serves an annual pay and benefits claim on your employer Tesco Ireland. Such a claim is an effort to win recognition for the hard work and dedication shown by you the members to the Tesco business over the past 12 months.

In putting the various parts of the claim together we have been guided by you and your fellow members and the issues that you have identified as priorities through your active collective participation in recent national membership surveys. The claim was also recently endorsed by a national meeting of Shop Stewards.

This year the claim is as follows. On the issue of pay we are seeking the introduction of a pay scale with a starting point of no less than €11.90 per hour (Living Wage) and a top point of no less than €16.00 per hour. The introduction of this type of a structure will go a long way to ensure greater pay equality amongst all workers in Tesco which is something that is crucially important to many of you. We are also calling for the creation of 1,000 full time jobs along with fairer work roster scheduling and significantly full recognition of your right to be individually and collectively represented by Mandate Trade Union.

We believe the claim is both reasonable and achievable from a business that was only recently described by its CEO in a letter to staff as being in a “strong position”.

Do not underestimate the part of your claim that demands your right to be fully represented by your union. Over the past 3 years despite being formally requested to do so Tesco have failed to collectively engage in order to negotiate and agree your pay and other benefits. Instead management decided, without giving workers a say, what pay increase they believed you deserved. This year we must vow to bring this dangerous practice to an end for if we don’t your employer will ultimately end up determining the full range of terms and conditions that you will work for and more importantly how you will be treated whilst at work in the future. You along with your fellow union members have the absolute right to determine your value to the Tesco business and not have management decide it for you.

As late as two weeks ago your union, not for the first time, wrote to your employer seeking meaningful engagement. On Friday last we received a response which clearly fails to accept our invitation.

Be under no illusion come June of this year Tesco management is likely without any reference to you or your Union to announce a pay increase. But the claim I have just outlined is about more than a pay increase it goes to the very heart of being treated with dignity and respect at work and also ensures what you have you hold. Like any other claim it has a much greater chance of being successful if it belongs to and is supported and driven by you the members. Attached to this video you will find a link to an online petition which gives greater detail of this year’s pay and benefits claim along with an opportunity to declare your support for it. I would urge each and every one of you to complete the petition without delay. Your employer needs to know we are serious in our demands and this is the best way of leaving them in no doubt.

We are already seeing signs that our members are tiring of the way they have been treated by Tesco over the past 3 years. Prior to Christmas we witnessed 2 strikes in Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon where your fellow members employed in those stores made a stand for decency and respect not only for themselves but for all of their fellow union members. The same level of fighting spirit is now required to support and deliver the pay and benefits claim which we intend to send to your employer today. As proven in the past none of the current terms and conditions that you currently have were won without a fight through the determination of our members acting collectively and sticking together in their union.

The same is true of the current claim which we all need to define as a turning point in the relationship with your employer when you the proud members of Mandate Trade Union use your collective power to ensure you are treated with the dignity and respect that you are entitled to.

So don’t forget sign the petition now and always remember together we are stronger.

To all Mandate activists in Tesco Ireland – 2019 Pay & Benefits Claim to be launched

To all shop stewards/activists,

Tomorrow morning Mandate Trade Union will launch the Tesco workers’ pay and benefits claim for 2019.

This claim has been informed by a number of surveys of Tesco members and has already been endorsed by the Tesco National Strategy Team comprised of Tesco activists.

To coincide with this launch, Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light will be issuing a video to all Tesco members informing them about the contents of the claim.

A link to the video and the claim will be sent by text message to all Tesco workers along with a petition/declaration in support of the claim.

It is vital that as many Tesco workers as possible are informed about this years claim and that they declare their support for it if it is to be achieved in full.

I would respectfully ask that when you receive the video and the petition, you share it with all of your colleagues in Tesco Ireland through text message, email, social media, WhatsApp or any other means of communication you deem appropriate.

Your local official/organiser will be in touch in the coming weeks about member information meetings on the claim and the ongoing Tesco Workers Together campaign for decent jobs and workers’ rights in Tesco Ireland.

Yours in solidarity,

John Douglas

Mandate General Secretary

 

Tesco Sligo workers announce two more strike dates before Christmas

Workers call on company to abide by agreements to prevent future strikes

Mandate Trade Union has notified Tesco Ireland of two more days of industrial action before Christmas including Friday, 21st December and Saturday, 22nd December 2018.

The Tesco workers are also scheduled to strike tomorrow, Friday, 14th December with Carrick-on-Shannon workers also striking on the 22nd December.

Mandate General Secretary John Douglas said it is regrettable that the Tesco workers have been forced to escalate their dispute, but the company bears sole responsibility for this.

“Our members do not want to be on strike. No worker does,” said Mr Douglas. “But when a major multinational and highly profitable retailer is constantly undermining your working conditions and your right to be represented by your trade union, you are not left with many options. You can either roll over and take it, or you can fight back and I commend the Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon workers for choosing to fight back.”

Mr Douglas said he had written to the company in an attempt to avoid these strikes with very clear and concise demands. He explained:

“We explained to Tesco management how this strike and further strikes can be prevented by asking them to answer three simple questions:

  1. In the case of Tesco Sligo and Tesco Carrick-on-Shannon, is Tesco agreeable to jointly referring issues in dispute to the WRC and onwards to the Labour Court if necessary?
  2. Pending the resolution of these issues, is Tesco prepared to revert to the status quo in regard to all issues in dispute?
  3. As previously requested, is Tesco prepared to ‘fully adhere to all existing collective agreements and follow in good faith all existing procedures and dispute resolution’ both now and in the future?

If Tesco answer in the affirmative to all three questions, this strike does not need to go ahead and the company will be giving real expression to the fact that they recognise their workers’ union, respect workers and their voice at work, and is truly a great place to work.

If they refuse to answer or say no, it should become clear to all that Tesco’s real agenda is about de-recognising their workers’ right to be represented by a trade union and undermining their working conditions,” said Mr Douglas.

Sligo strike

Last Thursday, 6th December 2018, more than 70 Tesco workers in Sligo took industrial action following the company’s failure to abide by collective agreements and adhere to agreed procedures.

Watch a video of workers explaining why they are on strike by clicking here.

The dispute dates back to April 2017 when the workers first raised a collective grievance which was ignored by local management. The workers then followed the company’s procedures and passed the grievance to their local trade union official who wrote ten separate letters to the company attempting to resolve the issue before it escalated. Tesco didn’t respond to any of those letters.

Mandate’s Divisional Organiser, Ciaran Campbell, in line with agreed procedures, then moved the complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Four dates were suggested by the WRC with Mandate representatives making themselves available for all of the dates. Tesco refused to attend.

At this point Mr Campbell informed the WRC that he was left with no alternative but to ballot members due to Tesco’s refusal to engage.

The ballot result was emphatic. 85% of all members in the store voted, and 97% of them voted in favour of industrial action.

Mr Campbell thanked the Sligo public for their support during last weeks strike, and apologised for any inconvenience caused:

“The support we had on the picket lines last week was inspirational. We know that this strike is a serious inconvenience to Tesco customers, but we’d hope that people would put the blame firmly where it belongs. Tesco management have the capacity to ensure there are no more strikes in Sligo, or anywhere else, and all they have to do is abide by their own agreed procedures. Failure to do that will mean they continue to inconvenience their customers, the staff and damage their own business.”

Mandate again calls on the company to do the right thing before the dispute escalates further.

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