Supermarket multinational Tesco has confirmed that it will press ahead with reducing pay and conditions for around 1,000 of its 14,000 employees on 18 April - as affected staff ballot for strike action.

However, Mandate trade union, which represents 12,500 Tesco employees, has said it was reliably informed yesterday that the date for the controversial transfer to what it describes as inferior contracts was being pushed out to 2 May. 

On foot of that, Mandate sent out emails to its members on Thursday evening confirming the date change.

However, a Tesco spokesperson has told RTÉ News the company is still working towards the date of 18 April to streamline the employment terms of its pre-1996 employees and those recruited since then on lower terms and conditions. 

Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light said that immaterial of the date involved, Mandate and its members will resist any attempt by Tesco to implement unilateral changes 

The dispute centres on around 1,000 workers who hold pre-1996 contracts of employment involving higher rates of pay than those applicable to staff recruited after 1996. 

Tesco has said it wants to streamline its pay grades and sick pay arrangements for its 14,500 staff.

The company believes the pre-1996 contracts are not sufficiently flexible to meet the needs for longer opening hours and changed trading patterns. 

The pre-1996 workers are employed in 89 of the company's 149 stores. 

However, Mandate and SIPTU say that workers would stand to lose out due to the lower pay provisions in the post-1996 contract.

If an agreement is reached, Tesco is expected to re-open a redundancy package worth five weeks pay per year of service uncapped to staff who might prefer to leave. 

For staff who choose to say on on the less generous modern contract, Tesco would offer compensation totalling two and a half times the annual loss. 

Mandate, which represents the vast bulk of Tesco retail employees, will have its ballot result on 15 April.

SIPTU which represents around 600 employees, will have the results of its ballot tomorrow. 

Separately, the Labour Court recommended a 2% pay award, which was paid to all staff except those on the pre-1996 contract.

Pre-1996 employees have a contractual entitlement to a 5% bonus.

Newer recruits have an entitlement to a share bonus which was not paid in 2015 due to a deterioration in Tesco's trading performance.

However, the company has now paid a 1.5% share bonus to the post-1996 employees. 

Talks at the Workplace Relations Commission were adjourned last month without agreement. 

The result of the Mandate ballot of its pre-1996 members is due on 15 April. 

SIPTU's ballot of its pre-1996 members is due tomorrow.