Tesco has said it is surprised by the T&G union’s plan to create a national committee to co-ordinate shop stewards “across the empire”.
The union made the announcement yesterday as Tesco declared record profits of £2.21bn. The T&G has 4,000 members employed directly at Tesco and at the supermarket’s transport and distribution contractors.
The T&G said it had decided to set up the committee after complaints from representatives that they were being forced to agree to efficiency savings and “give up hard-won pay and working conditions in order to be admitted into the Tesco pension schemes”.
However, a Tesco spokeswoman said that the company had been caught by surprise because the union had not previously raised these concerns.
She admitted that a drive to improve efficiency in Tesco’s distribution network could lead to redundancies but said the company was following agreed procedures and best practices. She added that Tesco would create another 10,000 jobs in the UK in the coming year.
“In addition to very competitive rates of pay, staff will also get to enjoy the full range of Tesco benefits including share ownership schemes and an award-winning pension scheme.” she said.
“In cases where we have proposed changes to terms and conditions we are doing this via agreed channels and in full consultation with the T&G.”
Ron Webb, T&G national secretary for transport, said the unions would not accept that job cuts were either necessary or ethical.
“How can a multi-billion pound outfit attack the pay, terms and conditions of those people it relies on to get its goods to the stores?” he asked.