The action, involving the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), centres around the dismissal of two Polish agency workers at Tesco's Greenhills distribution centre in Dublin, is the latest in a spate of disputes between unions and the supermarkets.
The two employees, Radek Sawicki and Zbyszek Bukala, had their contracts with employment agency Grafton terminated after they protested against the difference in day rates for agency and permanent staff, according to the TGWU.
Last night's protests took place at 6 pm, at Baggot Street in Dublin, St John's Shopping Centre in Liverpool, Hackney in London, Argyle Street in Glasgow
and Cowley Road in Oxford.
The protests are the latest in a number of disputes with large grocers over pay deals within their distribution networks.
- · Morrisons is in a dispute with the TGWU and GMB unions over the right to national bargaining rights. Some 8,000 drivers, warehouse and support staff will go to a ballot.
- · Staff at Asda's Washington distribution centre in Tyne & Wear went on strike late last month as negotiations between the GMB and management over pay broke down. Workers rejected a 10 per cent pay offer because they claimed it was on the condition that they de-unionise.
- · In May, GMB workers at former Safeway distribution centres in Manchester and Kent threatened to strike over fears the sites would be closed by new owner Morrisons.
A Tesco spokeswoman stressed the workers were not contracted Tesco staff and that there was no question of discrimination. She said: 'The T&G were organising protests outside five stores about temporary agency staff and permanent company staff being paid differently, an issue which spans every industry. We offered to speak to the T&G about it, but they said no. Targeting Tesco and taking direct action which disrupts our customers and staff is not a constructive way to discuss this issue.'