Workers striking contract changes are being bullied by Tesco Ireland, said a representative of the Trade Union Mandate yesterday.

General Secretary of the Trade Union Mandate John Douglas said that Tesco did not act in “good faith” and were not prepared to negotiate the working conditions of 250 of the company’s longest serving employees.

“Workers are being bullied by redundancy or being bullied by contracts. This is not just about the 250 workers affected. This is about decent work, decent jobs, and decent scheduling,” he said.

Tesco employees in eight stores across the country went on strike yesterday over the proposed contract changes for staff who started working for the company before 1996.

Mr. Douglas told RTÉ’s Radio 1 that Tesco is trying to “crush the unions and crush the workers” by telling them to accept these new conditions.

These contract changes could include a pay reduction of up to 15%, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Over 700 Tesco employees have accepted voluntary redundancy packages since the dispute began last year. The average pay out is €105,000.

The Labour Court‘s Recommendation stated that Mandate should accept the terms and conditions of the new contracts.

Tesco workers on the picket line yesterday morning confirmed that they have plans to continue striking if the dispute is not resolved.

Lower Baggot Street Tesco employee Dermot Haddock said that he was striking for the pay and conditions that he had received over the last 29 years.

“It’s an indefinite strike, but we’re hopeful that it will be resolved,” he said.

All Tesco stores remained open for business yesterday despite industrial action. Tesco Ireland called the strike “unjustified” and “unnecessary.”

“Tesco is prepared to abide by the Labour Court Recommendation in relation to this small number out of our 14,500-strong workforce and is calling on Mandate to do the same,” they said.

The company also criticised the union’s decision to advise customers to shop in non-unionised competitor stores.

Mandate asked customers to “respect the picket” and shop in other stores while industrial action was ongoing.

Bus Éireann workers are also planning an all-out indefinite strike next Monday against the company’s proposed pay cuts.

Bus Éireann and the trade unions are expected to meet with the Workplace Relations Commission today.