The second day of action is now underway...
Ibec has called Mandate’s decision to call an indefinite strike at a number of Tesco stores "an entirely unreasonable move against a good employer".
Pointing to the fact that the trade union had refused to accept the recommendations of the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court on the issue, Ibec director of employer relations, Maeve McElwee, said:
"The inflexibility of these old contracts creates unfairness between colleagues and impacts customer service in a modern retail environment."
“This issue is not unique to Tesco," she continued, "and many employers in the retail sector have renegotiated contracts as retail patterns and habits have evolved."
Workers at eight Tesco stores are beginning their second day of strike action today in a row over contracts for some long-standing staff.
A further eight stores will join the picket on Friday.
Mandate says 900 long-standing workers have left the company – a figure Tesco disputes – and the remaining 250 workers do not want to transfer to new contracts. They say that it would reduce their income and disrupt their family life.
Mandate has thanked the public for their "strong show of support" for striking workers during the first day of action.
The union's general secretary John Douglas said:
"Given the support the striking workers have received all day, the public clearly recognise 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.
Tesco has argued that the terms of the contracts mean that they have too many people working during the earlier, quieter times of the week.
In a statement, the supermarket chain said:
"Like colleagues, we have been shocked at Mandate’s moves on two levels, firstly to refuse to abide by the Labour Court which is the cornerstone of the industrial relations system in Ireland and secondly by advocating that customers shop in non-union competitor supermarkets.
"Mandate’s action is a retrograde step for the industrial relations processes of the State which it undermines. The Labour Court Recommendation is the only solution to this dispute. We would like to assure everyone that we have done everything we can to resolve this issue fairly for all involved."
Management has said all stores will remain open again today and has again called on workers to accept the Labour Court recommendation.
Meanwhile, balloting for industrial action is to take place in a further 23 stores next week.
The eight Tesco stores currently impacted by the action are:
Workers from another eight stores are due to strike from Friday February 17th: