Tesco says Sligo store will remain open as workers strike over conditions

Tesco says its Sligo store will remain open during a strike by workers there tomorrow.

Members of Mandate have downed tools as they say the company's refused to engage with workers on pay and conditions.

They've also announced two more stoppages, planned for next Friday and Saturday.

Workers from Tesco in Carrick-on-Shannon will also strike next Saturday.

“Our members do not want to be on strike. No worker does,” said Mandate General Secretary John Douglas.

“But when a major multinational and highly profitable retailer is constantly undermining your working conditions and your right to be represented by your trade union, you are not left with many options.

“You can either roll over and take it, or you can fight back and I commend the Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon workers for choosing to fight back.”

Tesco Ireland said in response: "The only organisation in this dispute not following process is Mandate.

"We would like to assure our customers that our store in Sligo will remain open tomorrow despite another unwarranted one-day strike by the trade union Mandate.

"The store will be fully open from 8am until 10pm and will continue to offer all of Tesco’s range of products.

"Despite the disruption, we hope customers will come to the store in the very significant numbers as they did last week when another unwelcome one-day disruption was inflicted on Sligo, its businesses and their employees. We regret this action by Mandate for our customers in the run up to Christmas.

"Tesco condemns this further unnecessary one-day strike by Mandate and its plan to run additional two-day stoppages next week in Sligo and a one-day stoppage in Carrick-on-Shannon. This strike action by Mandate is outside the company and union’s agreed procedures and it is reckless by Mandate to unnecessarily disrupt these stores and these two towns when they should be benefitting from peak Christmas trade. This unwarranted strike action at this busy time in a very competitive market place will detrimentally impact our customers and therefore the stores and our colleagues in the long term.

"Mandate is making unjustified strikes out of local disputes about local issues. We call on Mandate to follow procedures which are to refer disputes to the Workplace Relations Commission. Mandate should take up the offer from the WRC for a conciliation conference on Sligo which was scheduled for October 24th but was rejected by Mandate. In Carrick-on-Shannon, the local issues have not even yet been referred back to the WRC by Mandate and the union should do this and call off this unwarranted strike action. We have always respected and remain committed to the industrial relations processes of the State.

"Tesco continues to offer the best pay and benefits in retailing and unusually for retailers, recognises Mandate. Against a very challenging and competitive market place and retail price deflation, we awarded a 2% pay increase in April and between 2% and 5% bonus this year for in scope colleagues. This means that most colleagues have received a combined benefit of between 4% and 7% in 2018 alone. The 2% pay award is on top of a combined 6% pay increase already awarded to colleagues, which delivers a combined 8% pay increase since 2015. These pay increases and our overall terms of employment still remain better in many respects to those of our competitors in the market and in a difficult competitive environment.

"Along with offering our staff the best pay and benefits in our sector, we're really proud to continue to receive from our colleagues official accreditation as a Great Place to Work. We are the only retailer to give every colleague a banded hour contract guaranteeing them minimum hours each week across all of our stores and more than 50% of our colleagues work 30 hours or more every week. We are also the only retailer to give all colleagues their rosters four weeks in advance."

Mr Douglas said he had written to the company in an attempt to avoid these strikes with very clear and concise demands. He explained: “We explained to Tesco management how this strike and further strikes can be prevented by asking them to answer three simple questions:

"1. In the case of Tesco Sligo and Tesco Carrick-on-Shannon, is Tesco agreeable to jointly referring issues in dispute to the WRC and onwards to the Labour Court if necessary?

"2. Pending the resolution of these issues, is Tesco prepared to revert to the status quo in regard to all issues in dispute?

"3. As previously requested, is Tesco prepared to ‘fully adhere to all existing collective agreements and follow in good faith all existing procedures and dispute resolution’ both now and in the future?

"If Tesco answer in the affirmative to all three questions, this strike does not need to go ahead and the company will be giving real expression to the fact that they recognise their workers’ union, respect workers and their voice at work, and is truly a great place to work.

"If they refuse to answer or say no, it should become clear to all that Tesco’s real agenda is about de-recognising their workers’ right to be represented by a trade union and undermining their working conditions.”

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