Strike at over 70 Tesco stores nationwide to go ahead this week

Mandate calls on company to attend Labour Court hearing after talks break down

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A strike by workers at over 70 Tesco shops across the country is set to go ahead this week.

Mandate confirmed the action will proceed on Thursday after talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) broke down early this morning.

The union said the strike could be avoided if the company “either withdraws their threats to force changes to pay and conditions of employment for their workers without agreement” or agrees to attend a third-party hearing at the Labour Court.

Mandate called off an earlier action scheduled for last week after Tesco deferred planned pay cuts of up to 35% for longer-serving staff.

Union members voted in favour of industrial action last month after the retailer proposed new contracts with reduced rates for pre-1996 employees. Around 300 workers are set be affected by the move. 

Organiser Gerry Light said: “For us, and our members, the situation is very clear. Tesco are attempting to increase already significant profits at the expense of their longest-serving workers.

"If the company thinks it can get away with this now, who will they target next?

"We have agreements with Tesco for conditions of employment for all workers at the company and there is a genuine fear that if Tesco feel they can start ripping up agreements for one group of workers, there will undoubtedly be serious implications for all other workers in the future."

Voluntary redundancy

Tesco said in a statement that it was "extremely disappointed" by the announcement.

"As no changes in relation to the circa 300 colleagues on the pre-1996/97 contract have been made, we consider such action inconsistent with the ballot which only mandated action in the event we implement change," the company said.

"We deferred the proposed implementation date for this contract change to facilitate constructive discussions in the WRC, for which we have always been available, and we made no decision at the WRC about setting a new implementation date."

The retailer said it had presented Mandate with new proposals that would provide staff with compensation for either a full-contract buyout or partial buyout.

According to Tesco, the partial buyout option would protect bonus awards and in fact increase pay rates for most affected workers. The company has also reopened its voluntary redundancy scheme.