Mandate says workers in more Tesco stores have asked to be balloted next week to join strike

Union says that five additional stores have now voted to engage in industrial action from next week

The Mandate Trade Union has tonight said that it has been contacted by workers in several Tesco Ireland stores around the country to be balloted for industrial action. John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary, said that the workers in the stores concerned will be balloted next week and if they vote for industrial action they would join the strike in early March.

Mr Douglas also said that this week so far workers in a further five stores – Carlow Town, Sandymount and Bloomfield (Dublin), Ballinasloe (Galway) and Newbridge (Kildare) have voted to join the strike bringing the total number of stores who have voted to be part of the industrial action to 21. The workers in a further six stores will be balloted tomorrow evening.

John Douglas, said that tonight’s decision is a real act of practical solidarity by the workers concerned in the face of a lot of scare tactics used by the company including: 

  • Workers would experience cuts in hours if they balloted for strike action;
  • Workers would lose Family Income Supplement should they ballot for strike;
  • Stores would close for good should the workers ballot for industrial action;
  • New staff on temporary contracts would lose their jobs if there was a strike or they were seen on strike.

“No doubt this intense pressure by management had an impact on the votes of some workers, but the union congratulates all those who withstood the pressure and balloted to protect all contracts of employment in Tesco Ireland. Nonetheless, unlike Tesco Ireland, we fully respect the democratic decisions made by all members and the strike will get underway early next week in five additional stores and will continue in the 16 stores where it is currently underway.”

John Douglas said that Mandate’s offer last Friday to immediately suspend the strike if the company refrained from threatening the terms and condition of staff still offers the best option for a resolution to the dispute.

“Five days later, the company’s continued refusal to engage meaningfully with the union poses questions about ‘Project Black’ and its union busting agenda,” Mr Douglas concluded.

Further four stores agree to join Tesco strike after ballots

Twenty out of 31 stores – almost two-thirds – have now supported strike action

Last night the workers in a further four Tesco Ireland stores voted to join the strike which is taking place at the company over the attempt to unilaterally impose new contracts on long-serving staff. The stores concerned are located in Ballinasloe (Galway), Bloomfield (Dun Laoghaire, Dublin), Carlow and Newbridge (Kildare).

This means that from next Monday, 27 February, 20 out of the 31 stores balloted to date will be taking part in the strike – almost two-thirds of the stores concerned. A further 13 stores will be balloting over the next two nights with even more stores likely to be balloted in the period ahead.

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary, said that last night’s decision is a real act of practical solidarity by the workers concerned in the face of a lot of scare tactics used by the company including:

  • Workers would experience cuts in hours if they balloted for strike action;
  • Workers would lose Family Income Supplement should they ballot for strike;
  • Stores would close for good should the workers ballot for industrial action;
  • New staff on temporary contracts would lose their jobs if there was a strike or they were seen on strike.

“No doubt this intense pressure by management had an impact on the votes of some workers, but the union congratulates all those who withstood the pressure and balloted to protect all contracts of employment in Tesco Ireland. Nonetheless, unlike Tesco Ireland, we fully respect the democratic decisions made by all members and the strike will get underway next Monday in four additional stores as will continue in the 16 stores where it is currently underway.”

Gerry Light concluded by saying Mandate’s offer last Friday to immediately suspend the strike if the company refrained from threatening the terms and condition of staff still offers the best option for a resolution to the dispute. 

“Four days later, the company’s continued refusal to engage meaningfully with the union poses questions about ‘Project Black’ and its union busting agenda,” Gerry Light concluded.

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.

Mandate update on Tesco strike 20/2/2017

Tonight your Union will commence the next 24 ballot meetings for strike action in our ongoing dispute with your employer Tesco Ireland.

Up to now your fellow Union members in 16 stores have courageously decided to vote for and engage in strike action in the stores where they are employed.

They have done this in the clear knowledge and understanding that the core issues involved in the pre-1996 contract dispute have much greater impact for all Union members in the future.

They have decided to make a stand and are currently on the picket lines fighting for you and other Union members who have not yet decided to join them. Despite what the Company have tried to spin these picket lines remain strong and are hugely effective with most stores reporting 80% and over loss in sales.

Just in case you don’t get it by now I want to simplify what is at the core of the current dispute and I respectfully request that you listen to what I have to say very carefully. The pre-96 contract dispute must be a matter of concern for all Mandate members employed in Tesco Ireland for the following reasons.

Tesco are demanding from your fellow Union members employed on pre-1996 contracts that they do not have the right to reject a Labour Court recommendation and more alarmingly your employer is insisting as a consequence of these workers asserting this absolute right the company will change their terms and conditions of employment without their agreement.

Common sense tells you that if we stand back and allow the company achieve this outrageous objective then we must all collectively accept the dire consequences that will follow in the event of the same approach being applied to whatever other term and condition of employment the employer chooses to target next.

Make no mistake about it these entitlements include hourly rates of pay, weekly hours of work, patterns of work, annual bonus, premium payments, sick pay, work duties, holiday and pension entitlements to name but a few.

All of these benefits were over many years achieved through difficult negotiations by your Union, please don’t presume and make the crucial mistake that without the protection of your Union they will be automatically maintained into the future by a business that is desperate to increase profit levels clearly at the expense of its workforce.

During the current dispute your Union revealed the existence of Project Black which in essence is a concerted plan by your employer to initially weaken the power of your Union with a view to removing it altogether.

If anybody still doubts the intention of your employer in this regard then I want to tell you what happened when your Union met with the Company last Friday in an effort to resolve the current dispute.

Your Union presented in writing a more than reasonable proposal which significantly included the potential to suspend the strike action with immediate effect. Incredibly management walked away from this opportunity, said they wanted more time and now nearly 3 days later they have not shown your Union the courtesy of a reply.

Ask yourself, are these the actions of an employer who wants to meaningfully engage with your Union either now or in the future? The answer is clear and it’s, no. This blatant disregard for your Union will continue until you the members send back a strong unified message that you are not prepared to accept such treatment.

When you cast your vote in the upcoming ballots you must remember the significance of the power that such an entitlement gives you and your fellow Union members.

Through your vote you can determine the type of workplace you will have in the future.

Your employer will encourage you to take a narrow individualistic view and not to look beyond the issues relevant to your fellow pre-96 Union members. Take a moment to think why they are promoting this approach.

The power of your Union lies in the power of workers sticking together.

The day you choose to accept the individualistic approach over the strength of the collective is the day that all of your terms and conditions of employment become more vulnerable and liable to change without your agreement.

Think it’s not possible, then look no further than what is happening to your pre-1996 fellow Union members, it’s taking place before your very eyes.

Significantly the choice is yours to make. Either you choose to take an individual narrow short term view or you decide to accept to stay part of a powerful collective and recognise that we need to stop the broader implications arising from the current pre-96 dispute and in doing so protect the terms and conditions of all Union members working in Tesco Ireland into the future.

Be sure that you choose wisely for the wrong decision will undoubtedly contain much pain for many years to come and you and your fellow workers will not have the collective power to stop it happening, by then it will be too late.

Act now, protect your future, you might not get another chance for a long time to have this type of influence and power and remember TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

Eight more Tesco stores join picket-lines this morning

Up to additional 800 Mandate Trade Union members in eight Tesco stores in Dublin, Monaghan and Wicklow have joined their colleagues on strike this morning (Friday, 17th February 2017) bringing the total number of stores on strike to 16.

Since Tuesday, more than 700 Tesco workers have been picketing eight Tesco stores in Dublin, Kerry, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Wicklow. 

While Tesco Ireland yesterday accepted Mandate’s offer of a meeting on a “without prejudice’ basis to discuss the issues in the dispute, the union says that it is still cautious about the meeting and that the strike will continue until a satisfactory outcome for the workers can be found. 

John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary said, “Our members have received incredible public support to date and we know this will continue as the eight new Tesco stores come out on strike today. 

“It is always a difficult decision to take industrial action, but sometimes workers are left with no option if they want to protect their terms and conditions of employment,” said Mr Douglas. 

“Of course, we hope a resolution can be found when we meet with the company, but for now, our plans are to continue the strike as long as necessary.”

 Mandate Trade Union has plans to ballot another 23 Tesco stores for industrial action starting on Monday, 20 February next.

 

Mandate welcomes Tesco Ireland agreement to engage in ‘without prejudice’ talks

The Mandate Trade Union has this afternoon welcomed Tesco Ireland’s agreement to enter into ‘without prejudice’ talks with a view to settling the current dispute over contracts for pre-1996 workers at the company. Currently eight stores in Dublin, Kerry, Meath, Offaly and Wicklow are on strike with a further eight joining the dispute tomorrow in Dublin, Monaghan and Wicklow.

John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary, said that he has been in contact with the company with a view to setting up a meeting over the coming days.

“Whilst we welcome Tesco Ireland’s response to our offer of ‘without prejudice’ talks we are also cautious as the company has said that the solution to the dispute ‘is as set out by the Labour Court in its recommendation’. However, as we have pointed on a number of occasions to Tesco Ireland an solution to this dispute cannot be found totally within the confines of the recommendation as it currently stands.” 

Having expressed this note of caution, John Douglas acknowledged that Tesco Ireland’s decision to enter into ‘without prejudice’ talks was a positive development in the dispute. He also reiterated his union’s gratitude to the public for their strong support for the strikers over recent days.

“The striking workers have been very heartened by the great public support they have received and on their behalf and that of Mandate I want to offer our sincere thanks to all concerned,” John Douglas concluded.

Mandate makes fresh offer to resolve Tesco dispute

Union thanks public for huge show of support for striking workers as stoppage enters its second day

The General Secretary of Mandate Trade Union, John Douglas, has this morning written to the CEO of Tesco Ireland, Andrew Yaxley, making a fresh offer of ‘without prejudice’ talks to resolve the issues in the current dispute at the company. Eight stores are currently on indefinite strike in Dublin, Kerry, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Wicklow. A further eight stores in Dublin, Monaghan and Wicklow will join the strike this coming Friday unless the dispute is resolved with a further 23 balloting for industrial action next week

“This morning we have written again to Tesco Ireland offering to enter into ‘without prejudice’ talks to resolve the issues in this dispute. We did so last Friday and got no response, however, we hope that the company will reconsider our offer in the best interests of Tesco Ireland, its customers and staff,” John Douglas said.

In the letter to Andrew Yaxley, John Douglas wrote the following:

“On numerous occasions over the last week, this union has sought assurances that Tesco will not attempt to enforce changes to contracts without agreement, furthermore, we requested that the company on a ‘without prejudice’ basis to its position on the Labour Court Recommendation, engage with Mandate in good faith discussions in an attempt to find a solution acceptable to both parties for the immediate resolution of this dispute.

“Unfortunately, Tesco has not accepted this offer, instead demanding that ‘Mandate accept the Labour Court Recommendation’. For the avoidance of any doubt please be aware that Mandate as an institution does not accept or reject Labour Court Recommendations rather this is the prerogative of the members concerned in a secret ballot and they have overwhelmingly rejected the Labour Court Recommendation. Therefore, it is clear that a resolution of this dispute cannot be found totally within the confines of the Recommendation as it currently stands.

“So once again, I would ask that Tesco and Mandate on a ‘without prejudice’ basis to either parties’ position engage in good faith discussions to find a solution acceptable to all those involved”.

Returning to the conduct of the strike itself, John Douglas said that the striking workers have been very heartened by the support they have received. 

“it’s clear from the tremendous support the striking workers received all day yesterday and today, that the public clearly recognises the importance of the issues involved here – namely that Tesco Ireland, which has enormous economic power, is attempting to unilaterally impose changes to the contracts of employment for approximately 250 workers.

“If Tesco Ireland is successful with this move it would result in some workers experiencing reduced incomes of up to 20%. The company – which is the most profitable retailer in the country with estimated profits of more than €250 million annually – has never justified the cuts they are seeking to impose on workers who earn slightly more than €14 per hour.

“No worker wants to go on strike, but our members recognise that if Tesco can get away with tearing up contracts of employment without agreement for pre-1996 staff, it’ll be the 3,000 workers on post-1996 contracts who are currently on a higher hourly rate of pay who will be next. That’s why we’ve seen such strong support from our members in these ballots for industrial action, particularly from those not affected by cuts, yet. They understand that together we are stronger,” John Douglas concluded.

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