Almost 1,000 long-serving Tesco employees have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over management plans to place them on what the workers view as inferior contracts.
The new terms for the pre-1996 staff were due to come into effect this Monday but have now been delayed until May 16.
However Mandate, the biggest union in the supermarket giant’s operations representing 12,500 staff, said it was determined to protect the terms and conditions of the workers.
A ballot, counted yesterday, yielded a 99% vote in favour of strike if the company cut wages and terms without agreement.
The union is also unhappy a Labour Court recommendation in February which recommended all staff receive a 2% pay increase as well as a 1.5% share bonus scheme payment, will not be applied to the pre-1996 staff.
The union says those workers will have to take a pay cut of at least 15%. The company has said the share bonus increase is not being applied to the long-serving staff as their contract gave them an automatic entitlement to a 5% award which was honoured in 2015.
Yesterday’s Mandate ballot result emerged as the company accepted an invitation to enter talks on the matter at the Workplace Relations Commission.
Gerry Light, Mandate’s assistant general secretary, said: “We’ve now served notice on the company that our members intend to strike in the event the company proceeds with their plans to cut wages or alter the contracts of employment without agreement.
“It’s a pity it took until the declaration of our ballot before the company accepted the invitation to attend the WRC, especially when you consider we wrote to the company more than a month ago. It seems the company was waiting for the result of the ballot before they agreed to engage, but better late than never.”
The company said it was disappointed with the result of the Mandate ballot.
“We have proposed a generous compensation offer including a voluntary redundancy scheme at five weeks per year of service uncapped and compensation of 2.5 times annual loss of earnings for colleagues moving to our main contract,” said a Tesco spokeswoman.
“We are proposing to move these colleagues to our main contract, which already covers the vast majority of our workforce, as the pre-1996 contract means we have too many colleagues working during the early quieter times of the week and not enough during the busiest.”
Meanwhile, psychiatric nurses have threatened industrial action over staffing numbers. The Psychiatric Nurses Association said up to 1,000 nurses will be needed to fill up to 600 current vacancies and forecasted retirement “just to maintain current levels of staffing”.
Delegates at the PNA’s annual delegate council voted to put a proposal for a ballot on industrial action on the staffing shortage to a special meeting of its national executive council on May 10.
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