Mandate, Bafwu and Siptu trade unions, who represent 3,000 workers in Superquinn have branded the company Superscrooge after management announced to unilaterally reduce the staff Christmas bonus by 30% yesterday (Thursday, 4 December 2008).
Mandate Assistant General Secretary, Gerry Light said, “This is a much larger issue than a 30% reduction in the employees Christmas bonus. This is the first time that the current owners of Superquinn have decided to ignore the responsible partnership arrangements put in place by the company and the trade unions over the past three years.
“Mandate and its trade union partners have always acted in a responsible manner with regard to Superquinn, and in fact, partnership between the unions and the company has resulted in over €10 million of savings in recent years principally through the reduction of staff numbers by over 500.”
Mr Light said that this is the first time an Irish retail company has used the economic crises to unilaterally erode the terms and conditions of their employees.
“The lack of consultation with the staff representatives is a very worrying precedent for Mandate. This is a mischievous attempt to railroad measures on staff without any regard for existing procedures. The Christmas bonus has always been productivity based and not a discretionary concession. Superquinn staff have maintained their part of the agreement by being flexible and behaving in a responsible manner. All we’re asking is that the company behave in the same way and honour the traditional Christmas bonus afforded for working in partnership with the company.
“To tell Superquinn staff that their Christmas bonus is going to be cut by 30% with only three weeks till Christmas is unforgiveable. We’re talking about some very low paid workers who need every euro they can get this year and they haven’t had the opportunity, or indeed the ability to save all year for this eventuality. These people, some of whom have been scrimping and saving all year, were relying on that bonus to ensure they have a comfortable Christmas for them and their families during the most expensive period of the year.”
Mr Light also condemned the fact that the company are also compelling their workers this year to take the reduced bonus in the form of Superclub points thus restricting their capacity to maximise the full value of the bonus where in the past they had a right to receive it in cash.
“Our members are extremely worried and angry about the level of and the manner in which the reduction of the Christmas bonus has come about. If Superquinn or indeed any other employer in the retail sector believed that by simply relying on the current economic downturn as a legitimate justification to unilaterally impose a reduction in workers earnings, then they are sadly mistaken and necessary steps will be undertaken by the unions both at a collective and individual worker level in order to bring the employers back to their senses.”
Mr Light concluded by saying that the Christmas bonus in Superquinn is usually only one week’s extra wages for staff members, most of whom are in the low paid category.