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.