Tesco outlets picketed as strike gets underway at some stores

Dispute at eight outlets centres around changes to contracts for pre-1996 workers

Staff at eight Tesco stores around the country have mounted pickets outside their stores as members of the Mandate trade union commenced an indefinite strike in a dispute over contracts. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

The Tesco outlet on Baggot Street Lower, Dublin, was relatively quiet for a Tuesday morning as an indefinite strike by long serving members of staff got underway.

Staff and union officials manned a picket outside the shop and urged customers not to pass while a dispute over contracts for pre-1996 workers continues.

The action began at eight Tesco outlet on Tuesday. However the supermarket says all of its stores will be open for business as usual , regardless of industrial action.

The company wants to move staff recruited before 1996 into different contracts but the Mandate trade union said this will negatively affect their pay and condition.

The proposed contract changes will still impact on 250 staff who could see their incomes reduced by up to 15 per cent, according to the union. However the company disputes this and says many of the workers’ wages will increase.

On Monday, Tesco said it had spent 13 months in discussion with the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court to resolve the issue and has “done everything we can. We have gone above and beyond to reach a solution.” The WRC and Labour Court proposals were accepted by Tesco.

One member of staff at Baggot Street since 1988 Dermot Haddock said he would be losing money under the new contracts.

He said the picketers, who were in place since 7am, were getting a good reaction from the public. “Some people are passing but normally the queue at the checkout would be half-way down the shop by this time. Most people are very supportive.”

Mandate divisional organiser David Moran was busy asking people not to enter the outlet, urging them to go to a Spar across the road instead, although a number of customers were ignoring him. “Not a lot of people understand what a trade dispute is around here,” he said.

But he added that the strike was still “getting a lot of traction” and the outlet was not “half as busy” as it normally would be.

The stores affected include three stores in Dublin; Baggot Street Lower, Ballyfermot Road and Clearwater, as well as Vevay Road in Bray, Deanscurragh Co Longford, Navan Town Centre, Manor West Retail Park in Tralee and Tullamore Retail Park in Co Offaly. Further strikes are scheduled to start on Friday.