Fingal council backs Tesco strikers; tells people to respect the picket line

Fingal County Council carried a motion calling on people to boycott Tesco for the duration of the workers strike at an operational matters meeting in Blanchardstown yesterday. 

Councilors expressed their support for Tesco employees in the Roselawn district and said people need to support the picket line of the industrial dispute, although some councilors said the action might discourage people from shopping in other businesses in the area too.

The councilors’ decision comes amid escalating tensions between Tesco and retail union Mandate after the union’s assistant general secretary Gerry Light accused the company of pressuring its workers to vote against strike action in several of the stores balloted across Dublin.

Anti-Austerity Alliance councilor for Mulhuddart, Matthew Waine, called the actions of Tesco ‘quite disgusting’ and said their attempts to renegotiate the workers’ contracts were mainly for the purposes of breaking up the union.

‘If you are on these flexible contracts you cannot get a car loan, you cannot get a mortgage, you cannot organize your life – you are simply on call, sitting beside your phone waiting to see when you’d get called into work’ he said.

The motion to support the action was passed by a vote of seven to three, with those voting against saying they done so on the basis of disagreeing with the action of instructing people to boycott local businesses.

Local Fine Gael councilor Ted Leddy said that ‘for a council, a local authority, to instruct members of the public not to shop somewhere is very inappropriate’.

The Tesco workers’ strike began on February 14 as a direct response to the employer’s attempts to introduce renegotiated and more casualised contracts to its workforce.

Although Tesco management said the contract changes were being made to reflect a new retail environment and would not affect the staff financially, Mandate – who organized the strike action – said the new terms will see the wages of staff recruited before 1996 fall by more than 15 percent.

The supermarket chain issued a statement advising Mandate to rethink its strategy after six more of its stores voted against taking strike action on Tuesday, mentioning that 23 shops in total have now ‘overwhelmingly refused to co-operate with the union’s strike’.

On RTE Radio 1’s Liveline, local chipper owner Sharon — whose business is located next to a Tesco store in Bray — said her business has fallen between 60 to 70 percent since the strike.

She said she was forced to cut staff hours and close the chipper early because ‘it’s not financially viable to have staff when you have no customers in’.

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