Tesco’s business in Ireland faces disruption next week with staff at 70 of its stores planning to go on indefinite strike from Monday in a dispute over planned pay cuts for long-serving employees.
The long-running stand-off between Tesco and unions stems from the retailer’s plan to change terms, including guaranteed overtime, for around 1,000 staff on pre-1996 contracts. The group has said these older contracts no longer met its needs, such as Sunday or late-night opening, meaning it has too many of its staff rostered during its quietest days. The union Mandate has argued that workers affected by the changes would see their pay cut by between 15-35%.
700 of the affected staff have decided to accept a voluntary redundancy package offered by Tesco. The remaining 300 have been offered a one-off compensation worth 2.5 times their annual loss of income, although Mandate has described that proposal as unacceptable. More than 99% of pre-1996 staff voted to take industrial action in a ballot last month.
The transfer to the new contract is due to happen on Monday with Mandate saying that pickets would commence at the 70 stores where the pre-1996 workers are employed. The union is also preparing to ballot members in all Tesco stores for strike action to support their colleagues.
Whilst Mandate said the affected stores would be forced to close, Tesco stated that all its outlets and online service will be open for business on Monday as usual. The retailer said it was “disappointed” with Mandate’s proposed strike action and that it remained committed to reaching agreement on the issue. A spokesperson said: “Earlier this week we formally tabled a generous proposal for compensation for colleagues in scope. We need to make this change in order to improve our customer service at our busiest times of the week.”
Mandate said the pickets would remain in place until Tesco Ireland reverses the cuts or confirms its attendance at the Labour Court for a hearing on the dispute.