Tesco strike suspended to allow for Labour Court talks

Pickets were placed on 16 stores and dispute grew more bitter as strike progressed

Tesco workers picketing outside Tesco in Artane on Friday. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Tesco workers picketing outside Tesco in Artane on Friday. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

A strike that has seen pickets placed on 16 Tesco stores has been suspended to allow for discussions to take place in the Labour Court.

The strike, which started in eight stores on February 14th last, centres around what the Mandate trade union 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 repeatedly 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 dispute grew increasingly bitter as the strike progressed. The union claimed that while it was focused on fewer than 250 staff, it obscured Tesco’s aim of undermining Mandate and creating a division between employees by marginalising a small group before moving on to the contracts of other union workers.

Negotiated

Tesco insisted this claim was untrue and said it was the only large retailer in the Republic to fully recognise and negotiate with unions across its entire store network. It also said it had negotiated with Mandate for 12 months on compensation due to staff who accepted changes.

The two sides took part in talks under the auspices of the Labour Court on Friday evening.

These culminated in an agreement that involved Mandate immediately suspending all industrial action and Tesco issuing a statement in which it confirmed it would not make any changes to the pre-1996 terms and conditions while the talks process is ongoing.

In a statement Mandate said both parties had agreed there would be an orderly and peaceful return to work without recriminations either by or against staff or management as a result of the dispute to date.

“Both representative organisations, Ictu and Ibec, and their affiliates will enter intense discussions under the auspices of the Labour Court to continue to work for a permanent solution to this dispute.”