Earlier this month Tesco reduced prices on thousands of items in 11 stores close to the border in order to salvage some of the crowds of customers heading into the North to get their shopping cheaper.
To offset the cost of the reductions the company is now sourcing items overseas where they believe they can find them cheaper.
SIPTU says it has been inundated with calls from employees of suppliers who say their bosses are planning job losses or even closures as a result of the loss of lucrative contracts with Tesco.
According to Gerry McCormack, SIPTU national industrial secretary, many of the employers are not prepared to go on the record as they fear they could end up being blacklisted by Tesco.
“I hope on Monday to find out what exactly has been going on the background,” said Mr McCormack. “There is no doubt there will be a lot of job losses. At this stage there are definitely hundreds of jobs which could be affected. What has to be taken into consideration is that they have only introduced this change in 11 stores around the border. It is the intention to role it out on a national basis. They have more than 110 stores around the country. That is 10 times more so you can imagine the effect that this could have on the suppliers. This is only the first or second week of this.”
Mr McCormack said the loss of jobs in suppliers was one of a number of problems as a result of action by Tesco. “140 jobs are being lost in head office – all SIPTU members – as a result of its decisions. On top of that is the fact that they are trying to reduce the pay by cutting the hours of the lowest paid workers and have refused to pay the national wage agreement.
“Given the well publicised profits they have made, it makes these actions 10 times worse.”