Talks between Tesco and the Mandate trade union have ended inconclusively this evening however all stores will remain open over the weekend despite the strike.

The talks are being held in a bid to resolve a dispute over contracts which has seen pickets placed on 16 of the company's 150 outlets.

The dispute centres on the company's proposal last year to transfer around 1,000 pre-1996 recruits to less favourable contracts introduced in that year.

Around 700 affected staff took redundancy but around 250 remaining employees say that if they are moved to the so-called "modern" contract, their pay and conditions will be hit.

Mandate commenced an indefinite strike last Tuesday at eight stores, and a further eight joined the strike today.

Twenty-three more stores will be balloted for strike action from Monday.

Yesterday, Tesco agreed to enter talks "without prejudice" with a view to settling the current dispute, which was welcomed by Mandate. 

The supermarket chain has taken out advertisements in national newspapers apologising to customers for any inconvenience caused. 

It said that all stores remain open for customers.

It also pointed out it is the only food retailer to recognise trade unions in all of its stores.

Stores which joined the strike today:

Dublin

Artane Castle Shopping Centre

Churchview Road, Kilbogget, Ballybrack

Roselawn Shopping Centre

22A Drumcondra Rd Upper, Drumcondra

Phibsborough Shopping Centre

Park Shopping Centre

Monaghan

Monaghan Shopping Centre

Wicklow

Greystones

Stores on indefinite strike since last Tuesday:

Dublin

Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2

Ballyfermot

Clearwater Shopping Centre

Kerry

Manor West Retail Park

Longford

Main Street

Meath

Navan Town Centre

Offaly

Tullamore Retail Park

Wicklow

Vevay Road, Bray