Tesco is facing the possibility of industrial action by 12,000 staff in Ireland over plans to force pay cuts and reduce workers’ entitlements, a local union has claimed.

Trade union Mandate has balloted 80 members at Tesco’s Douglas store as a result of the retailer “blatantly ignoring” long standing agreements with the union including the National Replacement Store Agreement.

The store in Douglas is due to move to a new premises on 1 May but Mandate claims that Tesco is not willing to accept all staff members from the old store on their current contracts.

Tesco also plans to cut hours below those negotiated with workers at around 21 stores throughout the country, the union has claimed.

The move will also see a reduction of the voluntary redundancy package negotiated and agreed with Mandate, the union said. Mandate also asserted that there will be a suspension of premium payments for workers including the late night, overtime and early morning supplements for at least one year.

“Nobody wants to go on strike, especially in the current economic climate and these workers are no different,” said Lorraine O’Brien, Mandate’s divisional organiser. “However, when faced with a threat, not only to the maintenance of their terms and conditions, but also to their standards of living in order that the company continue to pursue ridiculous profit margins, it’s clear that the workers feel this is a fight worth fighting.”

The move has lead 80 staff to plan strike action for next Wednesday (29 April), two days before Tesco is due to open newly-revamped premises there.

Tesco has said that the company is not willing to accept the transfer of staff members from the old store who have pre-1996 contracts. Instead, the company has offered staff members a choice of either a compulsory buyout of their terms and conditions or alternatively, the worker will be dismissed by means of redundancy, Mandate said.

Earlier this week, Tesco announced record annual profits of over GBP3.1bn. Mandate, meanwhile, claims that the retailer’s workers are working in one of the “lowest paid” sectors of the economy and yet they are being told that they will be “forced to take pay cuts or else be made redundant” to be replaced with lower paid employees “while the company is still extremely profitable”.

O’Brien said: “We’re talking about loyal workers in Tesco who have been employed in the company for approximately 30 years, including the period of time under the Quinnsworth brand. When Tesco bought the company in 1996, workers were red circled to ensure their existing contracts would be maintained under the new ownership.”

Tesco was not able to be reached for immediate comment.