Cllrs John Browne, Paul Ross, Peggy Nolan, Padraig Loughrey, Micheál Carrigy and Mae Sexton with Union Committee member John Keogh and Tesco staff on the picket line. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
One hundred percent of staff balloted for industrial action at the Tesco store in Longford.
Of all the staff on the picket lines this week, the Longford store is the only one that has brought solidarity to the fore in the saga at Tesco.
And this is key, shop steward Joe Brady told the Leader on Monday.
“There is a very loyal work force here in Longford,” he added, before pointing out that workers on the pre ‘96 contracts wanted nothing more that to maintain their terms and conditions and “get on with their work”.
He also said that out of a 14,000 Irish workforce, there are only 200 workers on the pre ‘96 contracts - a handful of those work in Longford.
And, just days before industrial action began, Tesco management offered a 2% pay rise to all staff - except the 200 workers on pre ‘96 contracts.
“We feel victimised by this; we didn’t get our last two pay claims and we don’t want anything except to keep our existing contracts and get on with our work,” Mr Brady explained.
Meanwhile, the goodwill and kindness expressed by the public is what is keeping those on the picket line going.
Padraig McKenna who has worked at Tesco Longford for the past 36 years said it was heartwarming to see the kindness from both the public and from local businesses.
“We have been given apple tarts, sweets, buns and biscuits,” he smiled, before pointing out that Pizza Hut continues to deliver pizzas to the striking workers daily and Gerry Ellis across the way keeps them supplied with fruit and water.
“People are so good and we appreciate the kindness; hopefully this strike will be over soon.
“Hopefully there will be a resolution.”
By next week it is anticipated that staff from 36 Tesco stores nationwide will be on the picket line.
“All we want is for our contracts to be left alone,” continued Mr McKenna.
“We just want to get on with our jobs; to get on with it.”
The issue at Tesco centres around the pre ‘96 contracts where terms and conditions differ to all contracts thereafter.
“I am 34 years of age,” another worker told the Leader.
“I have worked for Tesco for 16 years and I earn more money than someone who is on the pre ‘96 contract, and is actually working for the company since before I was born.”
Many of the workers on the picket line have young families and mortgages to take care of.
“We want to get back to work,” said another man.
“We all have mortgages, and kids at home; we just want to get back to work.”
Mandate, the union behind the action continues to support the workers daily.
Representatives are also on the picket lines as the days mount.
“Twenty three more stores will be balloting for industrial action over the next seven days, so hopefully we will have 38 shops out by then,” concluded Mr McKenna.
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