Boots workers to ballot for strike action

Thursday 15 October 2009

Mandate Trade Union today said they are balloting workers in Boots retail stores throughout the country for industrial action. Boots has 918 members of staff working in 57 stores in Ireland.
Mandate and Boots management entered a series of negotiations due to the company insisting that it was essential to introduce a range of cost saving measures. These talks recently collapsed following disclosure that the company is still extremely profitable. As a result, Boots has now threatened to terminate all previously negotiated agreements with Mandate.
Boots posted €20 million profits for the year to March 2008 in Ireland alone. Mandate claim that the company is now attempting to force pay cuts of up to 15.5% along with a reduction in terms and conditions of their employees despite still being a highly profitable company with current cash reserves in excess of €70 million.
Some of the key changes in terms and conditions include:
· A 15.5% wage reduction at the top scale of pay from €14.20 to €12 per hour;
· A 25% reduction in public holiday pay;
· A 25% reduction in Sunday Premiums;
· Increased flexibility in weekend work for full time staff.
The union says that has been left with no option but to ballot its members specifically on the following issues:
· Management’s threat to terminate all existing union/company collective agreements on 17 November 2009;
· Management’s intention to unilaterally impose reduced pay rates and inferior terms and conditions of employment;
· Boots’ refusal to attend the Labour Court for a hearing with Mandate Trade Union to deal with these issues.
Mandate Assistant General Secretary, Gerry Light stated that any cuts to workers terms and conditions should be considered as a blatantly opportunistic attempt to use the recession to boost shareholder profits.
“This is quite clearly an attempt to maximise profits at the expense of ordinary hard working individuals who have helped to make Boots the most successful pharmacy led, health and beauty retail chain in Ireland,” said Mr Light.
“Boots has been operating very successfully in Ireland since 1996. Since then Mandate has negotiated several agreements with Boots all of which have helped to increase profits and productivity for the company.
“Due to Mandate’s refusal to accept the legitimacy of Boots’ cost saving initiatives, management now want to tear up these agreements and press ahead with changes to terms and conditions which will impact negatively on the standards of living of our members.
“This is something which we will not tolerate considering it’s coming from a company which is still highly profitable and has considerable cash reserves. It is entirely appropriate to demand that a small amount of these accumulated profits are set aside to protect workers terms and conditions, particularly during these troubled times” said Mr Light.
The ballots for strike action in Boots will commence next week and will be counted on Friday, 6 November 2009 a date which happens to coincide with the ICTU national day of protest for ‘There is Still a Better, Fairer Way.’

Boots force pay cuts while the company makes €20 million profit.