Tesco workers in two stores – Sligo and Carrick-on Shannon – have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action as the company continues to breach agreements and deny workers their right to collective representation.
Mandate Trade Union has served notice that Sligo workers will strike this Thursday, 6th December and again on Friday, 14th December. The Carrick-on-Shannon workers will strike on Saturday, 22nd December.
The Sligo store voted in favour of industrial action by a margin of 97pc, with an 85pc turnout in the ballot. Carrick-on-Shannon also had an 85pc turnout, with 81pc voting in favour of strike.
There is a possibility more dates will be added and other stores may join their colleagues in the coming weeks and months should the company not abide by agreements and allow their workers their right to collective representation.
Mandate Trade Union General Secretary John Douglas said:
“It’s extremely disappointing it has come to this. Our members do not want to be on strike, particularly in the run up to Christmas, but unfortunately Tesco management have left them with no alternative.
“For the last three years Mandate has tried to engage with the company on a whole range of issues, but it seems Tesco management are determined to continue with their de-unionisation plan, Project Black.”
He added, “They have refused to engage with their workers on pay and conditions of employment, on the removal of canteens and break room facilities, they have refused to pay some workers a cost of living pay increase for four consecutive years, and crucially, they have breached collective agreements which they freely entered into with their workers.”
Mr Douglas explained how Tesco Ireland have changed the way they behave towards their workers in recent years.
“For decades Mandate members and Tesco Ireland had a mutually beneficial relationship which culminated in workers building the company into the most profitable retailer in Ireland, while those staff members enjoyed decent terms and conditions of employment. Over the last three years, the company decided to change that relationship and have engaged in a campaign to de-recognise their workers’ union. We can only assume the €250 million in profit per year from the Irish arm of the business is not enough, and the company’s shareholders want more,” he said.
While workers in the Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon stores have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, this could easily spread to the other 150 stores, according to Mandate.
Mr Douglas said: “Tesco workers throughout Ireland are at a cross roads. They are being told by their employer that they will no longer be entitled to trade union represention, and unfortunately now the only way they can avail of that right is to strike.
“It’s appalling that in Ireland in 2018 workers have to strike in the run up to Christmas just so they can avail of their human right to be represented by a trade union of their choice,” concluded Mr Douglas.
Mandate Trade Union is calling on the company to once again engage with their workers through their representatives in order to prevent any damage to the company and to the Tesco brand in Ireland.
One Tesco worker, who wished to remain anonymous apologised to the public, but appealed for their support:
“We don’t want to be on strike. We want to be looking after our loyal customers, particularly in the run up to Christmas. We will be losing our wages and we can’t afford it. But we can’t afford to let Tesco management walk all over us either. That’s why we’re taking a stand and we hope the public will understand and support us.”