Retail Workers Seek New Deal On Pay And Conditions Post-Pandemic

Campaign by retail and distribution workers says there can be no return to ‘old, failed model’

Retail and distribution workers have started a campaign for a new deal to tackle low pay and insecure work to rebuild the sector following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign said a Retail Stakeholder Group composed of trade unions, retail employers and key Government departments should be established and tasked with devising a new blueprint for the retail and distribution sector to help it recover after the pandemic.

The campaign document stated that workers in the sector could “no longer afford the price of the low pay and insecure work”. It said a new deal must embrace decent work standards as a key priority, including improved pay and conditions, trade union representation and collective bargaining, along with access to training and upskilling.

The campaign is backed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ retail sector group, which comprises unions representing workers in the sector across the island of Ireland, including: Mandate, Siptu, Unite, USDAW and the GMB.

The document said that rebuilding the sector post-pandemic and ensuring fair competition between online trading and the traditional “bricks and mortar” high street model would require significant financial and policy assistance from the Government.

It said workers would not support “a return to business as usual and to the old, failed model.”

Mandate trade union general secretary Gerry Light said that the pandemic had exposed how essential service workers in retail and distribution were among the lowest paid and least well protected.

“This must change and this demand for change is supported by the workers, by a range of expert bodies and commentators and by political leaders. Indeed, it is an issue the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has also been vocal on.”

“The time for promises is past. Now is the time to act and to deliver a new deal for workers in the sector.”

Michelle Quinn of Siptu said: “The retail and distribution sector faces enormous challenges into the future. We now have an opportunity to break with the failed model of the past and build a sector that delivers quality jobs and growth.

“We need to address challenges like online trading, automation and the range of new skills the future workplace will require. To do this successfully we need the voice, knowledge and commitment of workers to help shape and inform a new blueprint for this vital sector of our economy.”