Unite Scotland today (25 January) threatened a potential strike action ballot if Tesco refuse to withdraw their ‘Fire and Re-Hire’ ultimatum to Unite members at its Livingston depot. 

Around 290 workers at Tesco’s distribution centre are being threatened with cuts to their pay of between £4000 and £13000 under ‘Fire and Rehire’, which will force workers to sign a new contract excluding access to a ‘retained’ bonus scheme. 

The company’s profits soared by 29% in the first half of last year as pre-tax profit reached £551million.  Tesco’s revenue increased by 0.7% to £28.7 billion, and sales in the UK and Ireland were up more than 8%. Last October, Tesco faced widespread criticism following its decision to pay a £315m dividend to shareholders at a time when it was benefiting from business rates relief worth £249m. 

A poll released by the TUC has also revealed that nearly 10 per cent of workers have been told to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions or face redundancy. A quarter of those surveyed have already seen their pay or hours downgraded since the first lockdown last March. 

 Willie Thomson, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Unite’s members are shocked, angry and feel betrayed by Tesco. The workforce has been deemed essential workers throughout this pandemic and they have worked tirelessly to keep families across Scotland working as best as they can during this crisis. To be told that they are facing significant pay cuts and an ultimatum of ‘fire and re-hire’ in relation to their employment contracts is disgusting.”

“Tesco’s actions are not only wrong but it’s an opportunist attack on our members. As a result of our members' hard work Tesco’s profits have boomed during the pandemic alongside government rates relief which has further cushioned the company’s profits. Tesco must withdraw this ultimatum and come to the negotiating table, or we will have to explore all options if the company doesn’t willingly come to its senses.”