Trade unions at Tesco are to ballot amembers in the retail giant for industrial action over what they say is the refusal by the company to give pay increases to 1,000 of its long-serving staff, as well as imposing inferior contracts on the same workers.
Mandate and Siptu said a Labour Court recommendation in February recommended all staff receive a 2% pay increase as well as a 1.5% share bonus scheme payment.
However, the unions said Tesco has now said that not only will staff on pre-1996 contracts not receive the pay increase but, according to Mandate, “will instead be forced to take pay cuts of at least 15% from the April 18”.
That date was the deadline set by the company for agreeing on the movement of long-serving staff onto new contracts. It indicated last January that it wanted to move the staff onto the new terms, with compensation for any lost earnings. Talks on those contracts have been ongoing since then.
John Douglas of Mandate, which represents 12,000 Tesco workers, said the treatment of the long-serving staff is “a terrible abuse of power”.
“Tesco are trying to drive a wedge between their own workers by paying one group a pay increase while denying it to others,” he said. “It’s a classic case of divide and conquer. We believe our members will see through this and stand together to ensure no worker in Tesco faces cuts and instead the company implements the full terms of the Labour Court recommendation.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said it was disappointed in the position taken by the staff representatives “when the vast majority of our store colleagues have received the benefits of the recent Labour Court recommendation and when we remain open to discussions with the trade unions in regard to our pre-1996 colleagues”.
It said the 1.5% lump sum cash payment did not apply to pre-1996 staff as their contract gave them an automatic entitlement to a 5% award which was honoured in 2015.
“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.”
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