Author Archives: mandatetradeunion

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.

Update from Mandate on Tesco Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon strikes

Mandate members employed in Sligo and Carrick on Shannon have voted in favour of industrial action. Here Mandate Assistant General Secretary has a message for all Tesco members.

“Over the next few weeks in the lead up to Christmas your fellow union members working in Tesco branches located in Sligo and Carrick – on – Shannon will engage in a series of one day strikes with the first strike taking place in Sligo this Thursday 6th December.

Why are these strikes happening? Well I think we all know the answer to that. It’s simply because your employer Tesco Ireland has refused to reasonably deal with a series of local issues which have been outstanding for a long period of time. Of course this type of behaviour by management is not confined to these two stores or indeed local issues. For all of you have over the course of the past three years in one way or another experienced the unfolding consequences of Tesco’s long term strategy to get rid of your union from its Irish business.

In response to the developing situation in Sligo and Carrick –on- Shannon Tesco issued a press release stating and I quote “Tesco has always abided by agreed procedures and we expect Mandate to do the same”. This view was also reflected in a company memo to all stores yesterday. This statement by management is simply not true because recent experience has shown that the opposite is actually the case.

On a constant basis your union has been cautioning you and your fellow members as to what the future will hold if Tesco get their way and don’t have a strong and effective union to deal with in the future. This is not scaremongering and if you don’t believe me look at some of the things that have happened in the recent past which are all clear breaches of agreements previously negotiated with your union.

  • Tesco no longer collectively negotiates your core terms and conditions such as pay, weekly hours and rosters, instead management now decides how much you get and when you get it.
  • Tesco no longer fulfils its without exception obligation to attend at the Workplace Relations Commission or the Labour Court, rather they attend when it suits them
  • Tesco no longer places new workers into union membership and this includes the most recent new store openings.
  • Tesco no longer will allow your full time Union Officials into stores to represent members
  • Tesco no longer allow union correspondence and information to be place on instore notice boards
  • Tesco no longer grants release for your local union Shop Stewards to be trained in their role
  • Tesco no longer participates in local or national information and consultation forums
  • Tesco no longer provides proper canteen facilities
  • Tesco withhold wage increases due to certain members of staff

These are only a few examples of what I’m talking about, I could go on, but hopefully at this stage you see the bigger picture and where we are heading if we do not engage in a determined effort to resist this type of management behaviour which is no less than an outright attack on your established terms and conditions of employment with an ultimate objective to destroy your union and weaken your power at work.

This is why your fellow union members in Sligo and Carrick –on- Shannon are going on strike. Their simple message to the company is they are not prepared to tolerate this ongoing attack on them and their union any further. Let me be quite clear their fight is your fight and if you are to achieve ultimate success you must be all prepared to join that fight when called upon.

I’m sure you are anxious to show support for your fellow members who are about to go on strike for issues that are and should be of concern to you. The best way you can do this is to stay strong in your own store and fight against any changes that are being proposed without formal negotiation with your union. If you resistance is met with a determination by management to push the changes through then you have no other credible alternative but to contemplate a similar approach to your fellow members in Sligo and Carrick. And if you do this you will be fully supported by your union. Most of all you must ensure that none of you agree to work in the two stores whilst they are on strike.

Always remember that together we are stronger and together we will win.

Thank you”

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary

Tesco workers in two stores vote for strike ahead of Christmas

Strikes could spread in coming months as company routinely breaches agreements

Union calls on public to support the Tesco workers

Tesco workers in two stores – Sligo and Carrick-on Shannon – have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action as the company continues to breach agreements and deny workers their right to collective representation.

Mandate Trade Union has served notice that Sligo workers will strike this Thursday, 6th December and again on Friday, 14th December. The Carrick-on-Shannon workers will strike on Saturday, 22nd December.

The Sligo store voted in favour of industrial action by a margin of 97pc, with an 85pc turnout in the ballot. Carrick-on-Shannon also had an 85pc turnout, with 81pc voting in favour of strike.

There is a possibility more dates will be added and other stores may join their colleagues in the coming weeks and months should the company not abide by agreements and allow their workers’ their right to collective representation.

Mandate Trade Union General Secretary John Douglas said:

“It’s extremely disappointing it has come to this. Our members do not want to be on strike, particularly in the run up to Christmas, but unfortunately Tesco management have left them with no alternative.

“For the last three years Mandate has tried to engage with the company on a whole range of issues, but it seems Tesco management are determined to continue with their de-unionisation plan, Project Black.”

He added, “They have refused to engage with their workers on pay and conditions of employment, on the removal of canteens and break room facilities, they have refused to pay some workers a cost of living pay increase for four consecutive years, and crucially, they have breached collective agreements which they freely entered into with their workers.”

Mr Douglas explained how Tesco Ireland have changed the way they behave towards their workers in recent years.

“For decades Mandate members and Tesco Ireland had a mutually beneficial relationship which culminated in workers building the company into the most profitable retailer in Ireland, while those staff members enjoyed decent terms and conditions of employment. Over the last three years, the company decided to change that relationship and have engaged in a campaign to de-recognise their workers’ union. We can only assume the €250 million in profit per year from the Irish arm of the business is not enough, and the company’s shareholders want more,” he said.

While workers in the Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon stores have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, this could easily spread to the other 150 stores, according to Mandate.

Mr Douglas said: “Tesco workers throughout Ireland are at a cross roads. They are being told by their employer that they will no longer be entitled to trade union represention, and unfortunately now the only way they can avail of that right is to strike.

“It’s appalling that in Ireland in 2018 workers have to strike in the run up to Christmas just so they can avail of their human right to be represented by a trade union of their choice,” concluded Mr Douglas.

Mandate Trade Union is calling on the company to once again engage with their workers through their representatives in order to prevent any damage to the company and to the Tesco brand in Ireland.

One Tesco worker, who wished to remain anonymous apologised to the public, but appealed for their support:

“We don’t want to be on strike. We want to be looking after our loyal customers, particularly in the run up to Christmas. We will be losing our wages and we can’t afford it. But we can’t afford to let Tesco management walk all over us either. That’s why we’re taking a stand and we hope the public will understand and support us.”

Mandate seek National Forum Meeting with Tesco

Mandate Trade Union has written to Tesco Ireland management calling for a National Forum Meeting to take place as soon as possible.

In recent weeks a Tesco European Works Council (EWC) meeting took place without any representatives from the Republic of Ireland.

Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said that it is imperitive that Irish workers are represented when determining their workers’ future at all levels within the company.

“For some unknown reason the two Irish representatives were prevented at the last minute from attending the EWC meeting held in early October,” Said Mr Light.

He added, “In recent years Tesco Ireland has repeatedly undermined the rights of their own workers and refused to engage with their representatives for collective bargaining purposes. This latest action seems to be an extension of the way the company are treating its workers and their union here in Ireland.”

In a letter to the company Mr Light pointed out that the whole European Works Council process is undermined if Irish workers are denied a voice.

“Our agreed information and consultation framework places the National Forum as an integral part of the Tesco corporate colleague consultation model in that it is intended to feed into the EWC and clearly in its absence the work of the EWC is undermined and devalued.”

He continued, “A priority for the National Forum must be that such an unfortunate situation is rectified without undue delay given that the formal EWC agreement clearly states ‘…National and local information and consultation shall take priority…’”

Mr Light believes Tesco’s response to this request for a National Forum meeting will illustrate the company’s intentions towards their own workforce.

“If they do not respond in the positive to our request for a National Forum Meeting, all Tesco workers will have to question why. If, as suggested by many politicians in the Dail, Tesco is organising a campaign of union de-recognition, then clearly they will refuse a meeting. However, if they respond in a positive fashion, we believe it could be an indication that the company are prepared to engage in orderly industrial relations within Tesco Ireland in accordance with their obligations under existing collective agreements and the law.”

Read the full letter to Tesco by clicking here.

Union condemns downgrading of canteen facilities

Mr Frank Timmins
Head of Employee Relations
Tesco Ireland
Gresham House
Marine Road
Dun Laoghaire
Co Dublin

8 October 2018

RE:  Staff Canteen/Restaurant Facilities

 

Dear Mr Timmins

I am writing to express in the strongest terms possible the disapproval of our members at the downgrading of canteen/staff restaurant facilities in certain stores over the past number of weeks.

In the eyes of our members these facilities constitute a well-established term and condition of employment and the unilateral decision to downgrade existing facilities is totally unacceptable.

I understand that the disquiet being expressed by our members has manifested itself through petitions being presented to local management in some of the locations where the regressive changes have taken place. It has also been reported that many of the members who have attested to these petitions have been subjected to subsequent intimidating behaviour by the management team.

The decision to downgrade the staff canteens/restaurants and the manner in which it is being done only serves to prove in a tangible way to our members, a desire by their employer to remove without proper consultation and agreement certain aspects of their current terms and conditions of employment. Of course they are acutely aware that further attacks of this nature are more likely in the absence of a strong trade union to defend their interests and such a scenario they are not prepared to contemplate.

Please confirm by immediate return agreement by the company to meet with the union to discuss the future plans for staff canteens/restaurant facilities. A refusal to so engage or an attempt to ignore our request will be viewed and relied upon as yet another example of Tesco Ireland’s refusal to meaningfully comply with its obligations contained in collective agreement a tactic which we contend is in furtherance of the overall objective to derecognise Mandate Trade Union.

Yours sincerely

For Mandate

Gerry Light                                                

Assistant General Secretary      

Over 150 Mandate activists in Tesco send a clear message to new Tesco Ireland CEO, Kari Daniels

3 October 2018

 

Ms Kari Daniels
CEO
Tesco Ireland
Gresham House
Marine Road
Dun Laoghaire
Co Dublin



Dear Ms Daniels

Following a recent national meeting of Tesco Ireland local union representatives we the undersigned are calling on you in your capacity of the new CEO of Tesco Ireland to address the following.

That our employer, Tesco Ireland, immediately reaffirms in both word and deed its commitment to fully honour all obligations contained in the various collective agreements negotiated with our union over the past 30 years.

The reason we are making this request is because over the last two years in particular we and our fellow union members firmly believe the actions of the Company have been designed to achieve the opposite. It is our further belief that the continuation of such an approach is having a detrimental impact on staff morale and consequently the ability of the Irish business to reach its full potential.

In a recent national survey of union members employed in Tesco Ireland 96% of respondents declared a desire for their employer to fully engage with their union on both individual and collective issues.  It is based on this declaration and also our daily interactions with fellow union members that the attendees at our recent national meeting took a decision to adopt a clear plan in order to firmly oppose and resist the manner in which our employer has treated us and our union in the recent past.

It is our genuine desire for orderly and constructive industrial relations to return to Tesco Ireland and we firmly believe this can be achieved without any further disruption to the business, after all this is in the best interests of all concerned.

In conclusion we contend that there is a better and more mutually productive way of dealing with industrial relations in Tesco Ireland and we sincerely ask that you bring your influence to bear as the new CEO to help finding a pathway towards it.

Yours sincerely

Mandate Trade Union Activists
(Letter signed by over 150 Mandate activists and shop stewards in Tesco)


Tesco Workers Together Update – Tuesday, 17th July 2018

Mandate Trade Union Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light gives an update on the Tesco Workers Together campaign:

“Hello, I wanted to talk to you following the recent announcement by Tesco Ireland to award a 2% pay increase. Of course everybody welcomes a pay increase, why wouldn’t you, but I am urging you to stop for a moment to look beyond this headline good news and consider the potential future dangers arising from the manner by which your employer has decided to pay the increase.

This decision was taken having total disregard to a claim by your union made on the 29th May that sought a 3% not a 2% pay increase along with a call for better weekly hours and more full time jobs. Importantly our claim also looked for the introduction of a mechanism to bring about greater pay equality. Pay equality means we want to move those on the lower points of the payscale closer to those on the top. After all in the main you do the same job so why shouldn’t that reality be reflected in your pay. Now, clearly a stand-alone offer of 2% falls far short of satisfying this and the other parts of the pay and benefits claim made on your behalf.

Because Tesco decided to ignore your claim we have now sent it to the Workplace Relations Commission for their attention meaning that your union with your support has no intention of giving up in attempting to deliver the best deal possible for you and your fellow members. By ignoring you and your union in this fashion the company is clearly setting out a model for industrial relations into the future and it does not involve giving you the workers a democratic say in determining what your pay and benefits will look like. They will tell you how much you will get and when you will get it. Significantly, they will apply the same model when entitlements are either reduced or removed.

Of course the real threat not only lies in the type of substandard company offers that might be imposed in the future but you must also look to how best to protect your current terms and conditions of employment many of which were created in the past through collective agreement with your union, such as the important 2006 banded hours agreement which today protects your weekly hours. Make no mistake about it at a time of their choosing when they believe they have turned sufficient numbers of workers against and out of the union the company will move to attack these hard won entitlements. We are already seeing evidence of this in certain stores where post 1996 workers are being targeted especially in relation to their established working patterns.

Of course the long standing struggle of pre 96 union members continues and at a recent general meeting over 140 of them gathered to renew their commitment to fight for a satisfactory resolution to their dispute. Importantly they unanimously supported our pay equality claim both in respect of themselves and all their fellow union members working in Tesco.

After many false dawns and failed attempts by others including the Labour Court to get Tesco to engage with your union the time has now come to declare a halt to the type of unacceptable and dangerous behaviour being pursued by your employer. However, we can only do this as one voice acting collectively in a determined fashion. Over the coming weeks we will be highlighting in greater detail the extent by which your employer is and has been advancing its anti-union agenda. In this regard I would urge you to read the next edition of our union newspaper Shopfloor which is due out in the coming days. In September of this year a national Tesco activists meeting is being convened to consider and endorse a campaign of resistance against the way Tesco is treating you and your union.

Critically only you, the members of the union, have the power to fight back and make real and positive change happen for all. I urge you don’t waste the opportunity to use this power when it presents itself in the coming weeks and months and more importantly don’t leave it too late to take whatever action is necessary to defend your interests, and remember TOGETHER WE ARE AND ALWAYS WILL BE STRONGER.”

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