Georgian company forces workers to quit their union – and fired 350 people

Georgia: Stop union busting at Rustavi Avot

A fertilizer producer in Georgia has been trying to force its workers to quit their union, and has illegally fired 350 people.

The new management at “Rustavi Azot” refuses to talk with the union, and the Ministry of Labour has been unable to convince the employer to come to the bargaining table. Meanwhile the management is forcing workers to accept short-term contracts, and has barred the union leaders from visiting the company. Every day, workers are being forced to quit their union in order to keep their jobs.

IndustriALL global union and its affiliate in Georgia, the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), have launched a global online campaign on LabourStart to demand that the employer immediately stop the persecution and undermining of the union, to grant access of the union chairman to the enterprise together with union members, and to start negotiations with the union to bring an end to this dispute.

Please take a moment to show your support for these workers:

Allegations Tesco management are forcing staff to work behind closed doors during Hurricane

Mandate Trade Union has written to Tesco Ireland for the third time today seeking confirmation that workers are free to go home.

The letter follows a statement from Tesco, which said:

“All stores in Tesco Ireland have now closed due to Hurricane Ophelia. We thank all our colleagues today who did their best to serve customers in the few hours this morning before the storm hit. We will reopen once it is safe to do so. We hope everyone stays safe today.”

However, Mandate is receiving reports that workers have been told they will not be paid if they go home and are now working behind closed doors. Other workers are being told that their stores are only closed until 5pm.

In a letter to Tesco, Gerry Light, Mandate Trade Union Assistant General Secretary said:

“We have just received reports from indirect sources that Tesco Ireland has taken a decision to close all stores due to the dangerous weather conditions. Whilst this development coming late as it does is to be welcomed it is regrettable to say the least that management did not see fit to directly inform Mandate Trade Union.

“Following this recent development we are now receiving reports that some of our members are being detained to work behind closed doors and in the event that they go home they are being told they will not be paid. Once again I am calling on the Company to confirm that neither of these practices are being applied or indeed that none of our members will suffer any disadvantage or negative outcomes as a result of the blanket closure of stores.”

Mandate is calling on Tesco to:

  • Ensure all workers can go home until Hurricane Ophelia has passed.
  • Ensure no worker is out of pocket for returning to the safety of their homes.
  • Provide all workers with safe travel arrangements (public transport is no longer operating).

Some of the retail outlets that have closed their businesses until Ophelia passes:

  • Debenhams
  • Dunnes Stores
  • Penneys
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Supervalu MOPI
  • Heatons
  • Arnotts
  • Brown Thomas
  • Supervalu Pettitts
  • Argos
  • Shaws
  • Garveys (Kerry)
  • Easons
  • PTSB
  • Caulfields Supervalu
  • Boots Ireland

Industrial Relations Update

Pay & Benefits Claim 2017

Please note that Mandate Trade Union lodged a pay claim on Tesco Ireland Ltd for a substantial cost of living increase as and from April 2017.  Tesco failed to directly respond to your Union on your pay claim, instead preferring to react by implementing without your agreement a 2% pay increase.  Mandate has referred your pay claim to the Workplace Relations Commission but to date Tesco has failed to respond and we now intend to refer the claim to the Labour Court as per the Union/Company agreement.

There are a number of other benefit improvements which we are seeking as part of this claim in addition to a cost of living increase, these include;

More permanent full-time jobs and improvement to the Union/Company Banded Hours Agreement so as to further improve certainty of members’ earnings.

An agreed mechanism to achieve pay equality for all Tesco workers by the creation of a Single Higher Pay Scale for all employees.

Justice for the 200

For the last three pay agreements Tesco has refused to apply the annual cost of living increases (2% per year x 3) to over 200 of your longer serving fellow members and colleagues.  This is discriminatory and unfair, all workers are entitled to an annual cost of living pay increase (we understand that even managers were awarded this increase).  Mandate will not allow Tesco to pick and choose who they believe are entitled to cost of living increases – the obvious danger is that it could be you next time.  Therefore this issue has been referred to the Labour Court.

Fallout from the February 2017 Strike

There are a number of your fellow members who are being unfairly targeted with disciplinary hearings and sanctions because of their support for their fellow Tesco colleagues and Union members.  Mandate continues to vigorously defend these workers against injustice.

Tesco Ireland Ltd post-strike reaction

Tesco have stopped all Union payroll deductions from your fellow Union members who either went on strike, supported the strike or intended joining the strike.  This is a direct attack by Tesco on workers and their right to be in and be active in a Trade Union, they have also refused to put new employees up on union payroll deductions, all this is an attempt to weaken your voice at work so as to put management in position as the sole decider of all things regarding your future wages and conditions.

Pre ’96 Dispute

The Labour Court recently invited the parties to give an update on developments to the Court.   While Mandate attended the Labour Court, Tesco chose to give a written update.  Based on these updates the Labour Court wrote to both parties offering new alternative ways by which the Court might assist the parties’ resolve all outstanding issues, unfortunately Tesco responded negatively to the Court’s suggestions.

Banded Hours Bill and Dail Eireann

We continue to lobby all political parties in the Dail to secure support for a Banded Hours Legislation which would give all workers in retail and beyond a right to contracts of employment which reflect the hours they actually work, thereby removing the ability of management to manipulate working hours to disadvantage workers earnings and schedules.  We believe we are close to securing the necessary support from TDs and in the near future we will be calling on you to lobby local politicians for support.

Training and Education Programme 2017

In September 2017 Mandate will roll out our new Shop Stewards / Activists Training Programmes.  They are planned for every city/town across Ireland and will be of great assistance in improving activists’ organising skills.  The courses will be in short modules of 3 hours delivered over a number of weeks.

Together we are stronger

Fighting for Decent Jobs and Respect for all Retail Workers

Tesco/Mandate mediator ends involvement in dispute resolution process

Mandate Trade Union General Secretary John Douglas has written to Tesco Ireland confirming that the mediation process between the two parties has now reached an inevitable end.

The letter from Mr Douglas follows a communication from Raymond McGee, the agreed mediator appointed by the Labour Court, who indicated that there was a ‘deadlock’ and he would now ‘step away from the process.’ Mr Douglas explained how Mandate was the only party to table a resolution proposal during the mediation process.

Furthermore, Tesco management have withdrawn the offer of redundancy for ‘Pre 96’ workers, which the company had always said was part of the dispute resolution process. On that basis not only the mediation process but also the dispute would now appear to be over.

Mr Douglas criticised the company for their lack of engagement and “totally disregarding the return to work protocol agreed with the Labour Court”. The protocol stated that there would be no retribution from either side for their participation in the industrial action.

He said, “Since then and up to the present day Tesco management have engaged in a deliberate campaign of retribution and penalisation against Mandate members and activists who legally and peacefully participated in industrial action, as is their human right.”

Mr Douglas confirmed that Mandate is preparing to ballot ‘Pre 96’ workers for protective industrial action to ensure the company does not attempt to cut their pay or conditions of employment without agreement in the future.

Separately, Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light has sought a meeting with the company to discuss the following:

  1. Suitable percentage pay increase across all hourly rates for a period of 12 months
  2. Appropriate upward adjustment to ensure greater equality across hourly pay rates
  3. Enhanced/Secure weekly hours including the creation of more full time jobs
  4. Enhanced work life balance arrangements to include a review of current rostering, shift arrangements

He said, “Our members have told us that pay equality is an important issue for them and they won’t easily forget that it was cited as a key justification by Tesco management for their stance during the recent pre-96 contract dispute.”

He added, “Therefore we’re happy to develop this concept further with the company as long as it is equality upwards, and not a race to the bottom in Tesco Ireland. The principle of equal pay for equal work cannot be used selectively and then discarded by the company when it suits them.”

Mr Light has also sought a meeting to discuss the failure of the company to pay the full 4% pay increase owed to ‘Pre 96’ workers.

“We cannot allow Tesco management to pick and choose which workers should be afforded a pay increase. The fact that the longest serving members of staff in Tesco are now owed 4 percent should be a worry, not only for the 3,500 thousand Tesco workers currently earning more than them, but also for all other workers in Tesco because if the company get away with this, who knows which group of workers and what established term and condition will be next,” said Mr Light.

Mandate to suspend Tesco strike

The below letter has been issue by Mandate Trade Union to all Tesco workers involved in industrial action:

“To all Mandate members in the 16 Tesco Stores on Strike, the 6 Stores joining the strike on 3 March all Pre 1996 Members:  

Dear Member,

Late this evening an invite was received from the Labour Court inviting the parties together with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the employers group IBEC to attend discussions in the Labour Court regarding the current dispute. During the course of these discussions the Labour Court requested the following and the parties agreed: 

  • That Tesco Ireland Ltd refrain from unilaterally imposing changes to the pre 96 contracts for the duration of the process.
  • That Mandate Trade Union suspend its picketing of all Tesco locations as and from tonight 24 February 2017 and that pickets due to be placed on 3 March 2017 are also suspended for the duration of the process.
  • That both parties agree that there will be an orderly and peaceful return to work and that there are no recriminations either by or against staff or management as a result of the dispute to date.
  • Both representative organisations, ICTU and IBEC and their affiliates will enter intense discussions under the auspices of the Labour Court to continue to work for a permanent solution to this dispute.

I would like to thank all of you for your personal resolve and solidarity during this most difficult time, we will keep you fully appraised of all developments as the discussion proceeds.

Yours in solidarity

For Mandate Trade Union

John Douglas

Mandate General Secretary”

After current round of ballots over 2,000 Tesco workers in 22 stores will be on strike from next week with 52% voting for strike

Mandate Trade Union says it assumes that Tesco Ireland instigated IBEC’s withdrawal from tomorrow’s scheduled meeting between Labour Court, IBEC and ICTU 

Company’s own figures show that striking stores are down over 80% in sales while non-striking stores business has fallen by up to 30%

The Mandate Trade Union has said that after the current round of ballots over 2,000 Tesco workers in 22 stores will be on strike from next week – the strike began with only eight stores – with more stores due to be balloted next week. The majority of workers balloted to date – almost 52% — have voted in favour of strike action.

John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary explained that this evening the Tesco workers in Sligo Town agreed to join the industrial being taken to ensure that new contracts aren’t imposed on colleagues without their agreement.

“Strike notice has been served and these workers will begin picketing from Wednesday, 1 March next. We are in the process of arranging for more ballots to take place next week after requests have come in from the workers in the stores concerned.”

Mr Douglas said that it was disappointing but not surprising that IBEC have announced their withdrawal from tomorrow afternoon’s scheduled meeting between the Labour Court, IBEC and ICTU. He said that he understands that ICTU intends to attend the Labour Court meeting nonetheless.

“We in Mandate can only assume that IBEC’s announcement that it has withdrawn from tomorrow’s meeting – which was due to look at ways of resolving this dispute – was at Tesco Ireland’s instigation, which is of course highly ironic given their mantra-like references to the Labour Court in recent times. This behaviour forms part of a consistent pattern by the company over the past year.”

John Douglas said that Tesco Ireland seems determined to continue to damage their own business, to inflict hardship on their staff and small retailers, as well as impose inconvenience on the public in order to crush Mandate Trade Union.

“Tesco Ireland’s own data – which Mandate has had sight of – shows that the company is not only alienating large sections of its own staff it is also doing the same to many of its customers who have seen through the company’s spin and are avoiding Tesco stores in their droves. The company’s own figures show that stores currently being picketed are over 80% down in sales while stores that are not on strike have lost up to 30% of their business. This is all in pursuit of their union-busting Project Black which is to create a union-free company where workers have no protection. They will not succeed,” Mr Douglas concluded.

Seanad unites to back Tesco workers in dispute

Mandate Trade Union has welcomed the unanimous vote by the Seanad yesterday evening (Tuesday, 21st Feb 2017)  calling on Tesco management to respect the rights of long serving Tesco workers to maintain their existing terms and conditions of work.

The vote was a result of a motion proposed by Senator Paul Gavan for the Sinn Fein Senate team and it had the support of all parties and groups in the chamber.

The motion is a timely show of solidarity as Mandate trade union members enter their second week on strike. The dispute has seen a further escalation with workers in 16 stores now on strike throughout the state and another five joining the dispute early next week – with the ballots continuing this week and next.

Mandate have stated that the strike is a result of an attempt by Tesco management to enforce contract changes which would see the wages of staff recruited before 1996 fall by up to 20%.

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, Workers Rights Spokesperson in the Seanad said:

“Today the Seanad as a whole has sent a powerful message to Tesco Management. No Ifs or Buts, just a simple clear message that they must respect the rights of their longest serving employees. Mandate trade union have repeatedly made it clear that this dispute can end – all that is required is that Tesco agree to not force changes to contracts against the will of their members.

“The fact that this motion has received so much cross party support shows that all right thinking people can see the justice in the case made by Mandate. It just isn’t right to turn around to workers who have given 20 years or more service and tell them they can either have cuts to their pay and conditions or redundancy.”

As leader of the Civil Engagement group, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins spoke in favour of the motion in the Seanad said:

“It is very important that we as public representatives speak up for these workers and send a common message in recognition and support of their terms and conditions.  It is also important that we send a clear signal and a reminder that a workers signed and sealed contract can never be cast aside to suit an employer’s preference and power. There is an important principle here and it’s one that affects all workers.”

Independent Senator Lynn Ruane said:

“I’m calling on Tesco management to commit to no changes to any contracts of employment without agreement. I am also concerned at what I have heard about management engaging in union busting tactics. To have such disdain for their longest serving employees is frankly unthinkable. I urge the public to continue to not pass the pickets.”

John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary thanked all members of the Seanad for their cross-party support:

“On behalf of all Tesco workers, some of whom have been forced by their employer to strike for a full week, I want to thank all politicians in the Seanad for their unanimous support.

He added, “Tesco management’s arrogant behaviour has been shocking to their loyal staff and there’s no place for it in modern Ireland. All workers should be treated with respect and not be subjected to intimidation and threats to their living standards simply because being the wealthiest retailer in Ireland isn’t enough.

“The support by TD’s and Senators, along with the general public, has been overwhelming. The vast majority of people see through the divisive tactics of the company and are appalled by their behaviour. If management had simply committed to no changes to contracts without agreement, the ongoing damage to the company could easily have been avoided,” concluded Mr Douglas.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »