Tesco has come under fire from staff and unions on both sides of the Irish Sea this week for paying substandard wage. Tesco Ireland is bracing itself for industrial action after the latest round of talks with unions over the basic rate of pay broke down on Monday. Mandate, which represents 9,000 of Tesco Ireland's 9,500 staff, said strike action was now on the cards unless Tesco was prepared to increase the basic wage by a "decent amount". A ballot asking staff if they are in favour of strike action is well under way with the results due on June 8. "It's not looking too good at this stage," admitted Mandate industrial officer John Douglas. Tesco has agreed to axe "antiquated" pay scales differentiating between staff from urban and rural areas. But its proposal to raise the basic wage from I£4.85 to I£5.14 is "not acceptable" says the union. "These extremely low rates of pay are not justifiable in a company as successful as Tesco." Tesco said it was surprised by the unions' "outright rejection" of its "substantial pay offer" and insisted Tesco's performance in the UK was "not relevant in pay negotiations in Ireland". Talks continued into the early hours of Saturday morning, but collapsed on Monday. A proposal from Tesco to offer the Christmas bonus in shares rather than cash hardly amounted to proper "profits sharing" added Douglas. In Britain, Tesco has been forced to withdraw proposals to cut the annual pay rise for employees at its instore cafes after staff protests. The cuts were suggested on the grounds of "fairness" as the company evaluated the pay grading process to ensure pay and skills levels matched, said a spokeswoman. It is now "re-evaluating its assessment of the role of cafe workers". {{NEWS }}