Retail staff at Tesco have voted "overwhelmingly" for industrial action in a dispute over pay, the SIPTU union stated today.
The union claims that the company is planning to enforce pay cuts of between 15-35%, from next Monday.
It has accused Tesco of not fully implementing a Labour Court recommendation that included a 2% pay rise.
SITPU has warned of action up to and including strike, if the company implements the pay cuts next week.
SIPTU sector organiser, Teresa Hannick, said: “The management of Tesco Ireland has refused to fully implement a Labour Court recommendation issued on February 19 last.
“This awarded all retail staff a 2% pay increase and a 1.5% share bonus scheme payment.
“Instead, the company is attempting to enforce pay cuts of between 15% and 35% from the 18th April, along with other changes to work patterns and loss of bonuses, on long-serving staff.
“This is a situation that our members cannot accept. The failure of management to engage in meaningful discussions with our members regarding this issue and its refusal to attend a Labour Court hearing has left them with no option but to take industrial action.”
SIPTU Organiser, Derek Casserly, said: “The impending industrial dispute could be avoided if the company confirms its acceptance of the Labour Court recommendation in full and withdraws its threat to unilaterally cut the pay and conditions of long serving staff.”
Tesco Ireland employs approximately 14,500 workers in its 149 stores in the Republic of Ireland.
The company does not separately publish its Irish earnings.
SIPTU represents Tesco retail staff in the company’s stores in Portlaoise, Cavan, Edenderry, Mullingar, Athlone, Douglas in Cork and in-store butchers throughout the country.
Tesco previously defended its position, saying that pre-1996 contracts do meet the needs of today’s customers.
"In recent weeks eligible colleagues received a 1.5% lump sum cash payment which is consistent with the spirit of the Labour Court recommendation and which did not apply to pre-1996 colleagues as their contract gave them an automatic entitlement to a 5% award which was honoured in 2015," the 5 April statement read.
"We also announced a 2% pay increase backdated to April 2015 to all eligible colleagues covered by the collective agreement with the exception of pre-1996 colleagues whose terms are currently subject to discussions between the company and the trade unions.
"No final decision has been made with regard to these colleagues which is not uncommon where there are other discussions taking place."
We received a statement from Tesco Ireland: "We are disappointed with the SIPTU ballot and we’re hopeful that we can resolve this dispute.
"Having more colleagues on the shop floor during the busiest times of the week is central to improving our customers’ experience in Tesco.
"The pre-1996 contract was agreed over 20 years ago at a time when stores didn’t open weekends or late nights and as a result we now have too many colleagues rostered during our quietest days instead of our busiest.
"To improve customer service, we need to unlock the inflexibility in the pre-1996 contract which limits our ability to invest in having more colleagues working where our customers need and value them most.
"We are proposing to move these colleagues to our modern contract which was agreed with Trade Unions in 2006 and covers the vast majority of our workforce.
"We are the only food retailer to have a collective agreement in place with Trade Unions and we remain open to constructive discussions to resolve this issue. Talks at the WRC were recently adjourned by the conciliations officer.
"This change is necessary and we’re committed to being fair to our colleagues as we seek resolution of this issue.
"We are proposing to compensate colleagues with 2.5 years their annual loss of earnings for the move to our modern contract which is recognised as offering leading rates of pay and benefits.
"In addition we are currently consulting colleagues to gauge interest in opening a voluntary redundancy scheme at 5 weeks per year of service uncapped.
"On the Labour Court Recommendation it is incorrect to say that we have refused to implement the two recommendations.
"We have announced a 2% pay rise for all colleagues expect those on pre-1996 contracts as are we are in discussions on this contract.
"Further we have also committed to paying all colleagues a cash bonus of 1.5% in the spirit of the Labour Court recommendation, except pre-1996 who received a 5% share bonus.