Tesco Ireland is bracing itself for strike action on June 29 and July 5 after a ballot by unions found 93% in favour of industrial action over low pay. A spokesman from Mandate, which represents over 9,000 of Tesco's 9,500 staff, said further strikes were likely unless Tesco "considerably improved" on the pay offer it has put on the table. However, Tesco claimed staff were not balloted on the "significant pay offer" in question, while Mandate insisted the 4% pay increase was "never formally put on the table," and in any case fell a "long way short" of employees' expectations. Mandate rejected Tesco's suggestion the strike action did not command much support, as only 5,000 members voted. "Considering only 59% voted in the general election, we were very pleased with the 56% turnout. This gives us a clear mandate for action." The unions have given 18 days' notice of the industrial action, well above the seven days required by law, to minimise inconvenience to Tesco shoppers, he added. "The ball's in [Tesco's] court now," he said. "We are available to talk at any time." It is not clear whether Tesco will be in a position to open any outlets on the strike days, and union members will picket stores. Mandate industrial officer John Douglas said: "We have made very little headway, either in direct negotiations with the company or in the talks under the Labour Relations Committee, in getting the issue of low pay addressed. "We have now been left with no alternative but to engage in industrial action." Tesco Ireland insisted its full remuneration package was "extremely competitive" within the Irish retail industry and criticised the unions for balloting members while talks with the company were still in progress. "The entire balloting process has been conducted before established industrial relations procedures had been exhausted," said a spokesman. {{NEWS }}