Belfast Telegraph

Tesco workers set for all-out strike at nine stores from St Valentine's Day

Workers in nine Tesco stores are to go on all-out strike from St Valentine's Day.

The Mandate trade union said management were notified of the walk-out after 78% of its 10,000 members voted for the action.

The strike will continue indefinitely and could hit a further 15 stores when more ballots are completed, the union said.

The dispute centres on changes to employment contracts affecting about 250 workers who were hired by Tesco before 1996.

Mandate claimed that some workers will see their pay cut by up to 15% while they will be obliged to work more flexible hours.

John Douglas, the union's general secretary, said Tesco is the most profitable supermarket in Ireland and it plans to restart dividend payments to shareholders this year.

"Meanwhile, Tesco workers in Ireland who have worked with the company for more than 21 years, and are already classified as low-paid on slightly more than 14 euro per hour, are being told to accept imposed changes to their contracts or get out the door," he said.

Tesco said contract changes will affect less than 280 staff.

It said it has been through 12 months of negotiations and secured a Labour Court recommendation which cleared the way for changes to contracts signed before 1996 before late nights, Sunday opening and online shopping became the norm.

"We want to improve our customer service but these terms are no longer suitable as we have too many people working during the earlier quieter times of the week and this also creates unfairness between colleagues.

"We have always said that we will compensate colleagues for this change," Tesco said in a statement.

The strike action is taking place at Tesco stores in Dublin on Baggot Street Lower, Ballyfermot Road, the Clearwater Shopping Centre, in Finglas; Vevay Road in Bray; Deanscurragh in Longford; Navan Town Centre; O'Connell Street in Sligo; the Manor West Retail Park in Tralee, Co Kerry; and the Tullamore Retail Park.

Tesco described the ballot for strike action as "extremely disappointing" but insisted that all its stores would open for business as usual.

"Tesco has accepted the Labour Court Recommendation in its totality, even though it was beyond what we believed was affordable. Mandate has rejected it," a spokeswoman said.

The company described the offer for workers to be moved on to new contracts as a "clear and generous solution".

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