From: David Gibney <DGibney@mandate.ie>
Date: 12/06/2013 12:25PM
Subject: M&S Strike Update
As you may already be aware, more than 2,300 of our members in Marks & Spencer will be participating in industrial action throughout Ireland tomorrow, Saturday, 7th December 2013.
I am writing to you on behalf of our members in order to give you some context to the dispute.
In late September, Marks & Spencer began negotiations with Mandate and SIPTU in relation to a number of proposed cost saving initiatives. This followed the closure of four of their stores with the loss of 180 jobs in Tallaght, Naas, Dun Laoghaire and Newbridge. The proposal for cost savings included:
A reduction in the Sunday and Public Holiday premium;
The elimination of the Christmas bonus;
A reduction in the number of Section Managers.
During the discussions, Mandate sought clarification that the above proposals formed the entirety of the savings plan. The company emphatically assured the workers and their unions that this was the case.
Within a number of weeks the company dropped the bombshell that they were closing the workers defined benefit pension scheme. The company insists that the workers retirement income is a discretionary benefit. Obviously, we differ on that position.
Management have not given sufficient evidence that these cost saving proposals are justified and in that context it is difficult for the workers to accept the unilateral imposition of cost saving measures like the closing of the Defined Benefit pension scheme which unlike many is performing and has a current surplus of 17m.
Notwithstanding the pre-emptive attack on our members terms and conditions the union attended two conciliation conferences at the Labour Relations Commission in order to find a resolution. However, despite being requested to defer some of the implementation dates for the removal of our members much valued entitlements to facilitate meaningful engagement, management refused to agree.
The company are now seeking negotiations after the event whereby theyve already implemented the change. This obviously prohibits the union and the company from engaging in a constructive fashion and this reality clearly makes it more difficult to find a resolution to the current dispute.
There is an opportunity to resolve this dispute but the company have to accept that their actions in the first place were wrong and they must not only show a willingness to come back to the negotiating table but also a genuine determination to agree a settlement which is acceptable to their workers.
Our members do not want to take industrial action and are genuinely hurt and disappointed with the way their employer has treated them. Were urging the company to act in a manner which is befitting of the perception that the public has of Marks and Spencer as a reputable employer and give their workers the respect and a resolution to this dispute that they undoubtedly deserve.
On behalf of our members I would like to thank you for your continued support and if you have any questions in relation to this dispute, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Mandate Assistant General Secretary
Mobile: 087 264 0044
Mandate Trade Union
9 Cavendish Row
PH: 01 871 7003
Mob: 087 132 4140