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.”