Tesco is seeking to reduce the pay and conditions of hundreds of staff in its Irish business as it moves employees to more flexible contracts.
The grocer has revealed plans to alter the terms of around 800 of its longer serving staff, who remain on contracts signed before 1996. It wants to switch the affected workers on to “modern” deals that were agreed with unions back in 2006.
But according to trade union Mandate, the proposed changes would see those employees lose around €2.34 per hour, as well as their late night allowances, early morning allowances, Sunday premium payments and guaranteed overtime payments.
Tesco aims to implement the changes by mid-April, placing staff on to contracts worth €11.97 per hour. Workers at the upper end of the pay scale currently earn €14.31 on their pre-1996 contracts.
Mandate, which represents the majority of the affected workers, claimed the cuts could cost workers €6,591 per year – or 16.5% of their annual wage.
Tesco, which employs 14,500 staff in Ireland, has offered to pay compensation to affected staff members. The amount will be thrashed out during talks with staff and union bosses in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for the grocer confirmed the changes would not affect any UK staff. He added: “Our customer shopping habits are changing; more customers are shopping online, at weekends and at different times of the day and our customer service needs to be able to meet these needs.
”We have too many colleagues rostered during our quietest days instead of our busiest, and guaranteed overtime which doesn’t give colleagues an equal opportunity to work overtime when it arises”
“Our pre-1996 contract doesn’t meet the needs of today’s customers and was agreed 20 years ago at a time when stores didn’t open Sundays or late nights.
“As a result we have too many colleagues rostered during our quietest days instead of our busiest, and guaranteed overtime which doesn’t take account of the needs of each store or give colleagues an equal opportunity to work overtime when it arises.
“To unlock this inflexibility in our business so that we can reinvest our resources in having more colleagues on the shopfloor at our busiest times, we propose to move all pre-1996 colleagues on to our modern contract which was agreed in 2006 with the trade unions as part of our collective agreement.”
But Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light accused Tesco of attempting to increase its profits “at the expense of their long-standing members of staff.”
Light added: “Tesco’s antics led to shock for all of the staff concerned but that shock has quickly turned to anger and now determination as the workers say they will resist any changes that are pushed through without negotiations and ultimately agreed with the workers concerned.
“The mischievous attempt to attribute these cuts to ‘customer services’ has gained no traction with anyone.”