Tesco staff in six stores vote against joining picket line

Union members in four other stores voted in favour of action bringing number to 20

Trade unionist Arthur Scargill on picket duty with Tesco workers in Artane, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Trade unionist Arthur Scargill on picket duty with Tesco workers in Artane, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Tesco has called on on Mandate “to urgently re-think its divisive strike” after staff in six stores voted against joining the picket line.

However, Mandate union members in four other stores which were taking part taking in supportive ballots on Monday night voted in favour of strike action.

The results will take the number of shops where pickets are to be placed to 20, unless the dispute is resolved.

A further 14 stores that have either rejected Mandate’s call or have to re-ballot. The results of ballots in 13 other shops are pending.

The strike centres around what the Mandate union says is an attempt by Tesco management to enforce contract changes which will see the wages of staff recruited before 1996 fall by more than 15 per cent.

Tesco has repeatedly denied this and says it needs 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 says only a very small number of staff will see contract changes and promised that they will not lose out financially.

The results of Monday night’s ballots were described by a Tesco spokeswoman as “a searing indictment of the flawed strategy that Mandate is pursuing to damage the company” and she said it was “unprecedented that so many stores would refuse to place pickets despite extreme pressure from Mandate”.

She suggested that the strike should be called off and future ballots to be abandoned.

Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light took a very different view of the latest ballots and said said the decision by four shops to back the strike was “a real act of practical solidarity by the workers concerned in the face of a lot of scare tactics used by the company”.

Pickets will be placed outside the shops in Ballinasloe, Dun Laoghaire, Carlow and Newbridge from next Monday.