Tesco workers in Sligo strike a blow for their rights

Wednesday 12 December 2018

More than 70 workers in Sligo took industrial action on Thursday, 6th December as the company continues to deny them their right to trade union representation and attempts to de-recognise their trade union Mandate.

Reports from the picket line indicate that the strike was given tremendous support from the local community, including politicians from various political parties who turned up to give their backing to the workers.

The workers were resolute in their stance; they want the company to respect them, and respect their rights. Watch as they explain why they were left with no alternative but to take this action…

This particular dispute dates back to April 2017 when the workers first raised a collective grievance that was ignored by local management. The workers then followed the company’s procedures and passed the grievance to their local union official, Ciaran Campbell, Mandate’s Divisional Organiser for the region, who wrote ten separate letters to the company attempting to resolve the issue before it escalated. Regrettably Tesco didn’t respond to any of those letters.

Watch this short video where Ciaran Campbell and local Tesco worker Robert MacDonald explain what the workers want.

After the company refused to answer the ten letters from Mandate, Mr Campbell, in line with agreed procedures, moved the complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Four dates were suggested by the WRC, and Mandate representatives made themselves available for all of those dates. Tesco refused to attend.

At this point Mr Campbell informed the WRC that he was left with no alternative but to ballot members due to Tesco’s refusal to engage.

The ballot result was emphatic. 85% of all members in the store voted, and 97% of them voted in favour of industrial action.

Tesco management have continued their intransigence and refused to guarantee that they will abide by all collective agreements they made with their workers through their Union. And so the workers are forced to strike again this Friday, 14th December 2018.

Furthermore, Mandate has issued notice to the company that the strike will be escalating with two more strike dates added before Christmas, including Friday, 21st December and Saturday, 22nd December 2018.

Mr Campbell thanked the Sligo public for their support and apologised for any inconvenience caused:

“The support we had on the picket lines last week was inspirational. Locals were dropping down cakes, tea and coffee, bars of chocolate and one local bar dropped down hot chocolates for the strikers. None of our members want to be on strike, and the public seems to understand that. They have been left with no alternative so to have the support from the people of Sligo is very heartening.”

Mr Campbell added:

“We know that this strike is a serious inconvenience to members of the public and to Tesco customers, but we’d hope that people would put the blame firmly where it belongs, with Tesco Ireland. Tesco management have the capacity to ensure there are no more strikes in Sligo, or anywhere else, and all they have to do is abide by their own agreed procedures. Failure to do that will mean they continue to inconvenience their customers, their staff and damage their own business.”

Workers in Tesco Carrick-on-Shannon will be joining the Sligo workers on strike on Saturday, 22nd December. Mandate again calls on the company to do the right thing before the dispute escalates further.