Updated: 06/02/17 : 08:25:00
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Tesco workers to ballot on strike action

Today and tomorrow, Sligo Tesco workers in the Mandate union will be balloted on whether to take industrial action as the retail giant expresses its ‘disappointment’ at the move.

It is the second such vote to be taken across Ireland in the last 12 months. Last April, union members voted overwhelmingly to strike over a two-tier contract system the company was reportedly hoping to instate.

That action came on the back of Labour Court recommendations which were rejected by Mandate members.

Tesco said at the time that such changes were necessary as employees working off pre-1996 contracts were causing the staffing roster to be unworkable.

The company asked all staff who had been working there since before 1996 to sign up to contracts for greatly-reduced pay. Possible industrial action was delayed through the intervention of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

However, potential strike action is being threatened again as allegations have surfaced that the company plans to initiate the same Labour Court recommendations that were rejected by staff last March.

The ballot will apply to “a small selection, about 50" of Tesco stores, according to Mandate.

Last week, Independents4Change TD for Dublin South Central Joan Collins raised the potential strikes during Leaders’ Questions in Dáil Éireann and claimed that Tesco plans to bypass Mandate and ‘unilaterally impose pay cuts of 15% on the company’s longest-serving workers’.

Currently, Tesco employs around 14,500 workers in Ireland.

Collins further claimed that those workers are facing a 15% pay cut, and that the move is part of a larger plan, known as ‘Project Black’, which “aims to get rid of 1,200 of the most secure and well-paid jobs in the company”. She described such actions as “both worrying and unnecessary”.

Mandate general secretary John Douglas meanwhile described the move as “bullying and intimidation”.