Mediator to oversee talks between Tesco and union

Company management and Mandate try to resolve dispute over changes to staff contracts

Tesco workers picketing outside Tesco in Artane in February. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Tesco workers picketing outside Tesco in Artane in February. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

Tesco management and the Mandate trade union have agreed to appoint a mediator to oversee talks aimed at resolving a long-running dispute which saw pickets placed on a small number of stores for almost two weeks last month.

Following preliminary talks at the Labour Court both sides agreed to mediated discussions after which the option to return to the court for further dialogue remains open.

The strike, which started in eight stores on February 14th, centred around what Mandate said was an attempt by Tesco management to enforce contract changes for long-serving staff. The union claimed the changes would result in the wages of staff recruited before 1996 falling by more than 15 per cent.

Tesco denied this claim and said it needed to make changes to contracts to reflect an altered retail environment which now includes late-night and online shopping, as well as Sunday openings. It said only a very small number of staff would see contract changes and it promised they would not lose out financially.

The strike action was suspended by Mandate last Friday night to allow a new round of Labour Court talks take place.

Tesco saw sales across its store network fall significantly after picket lines appeared with sales in some shops falling by almost 80 per cent and by more than 30 per cent in stores where no pickets were placed.