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8,700 shop staff in pay-hike plea

THOUSANDS of sales assistants have requested pay rises on the back of pay deals agreed for staff at Marks & Spencer and Tesco.

More than 3,500 Penneys staff, 700 workers at Boots and 4,500 employees at Dunnes Stores are looking for wage hikes, represented by their union Mandate.

The move comes after the union secured a 2pc wage increase for 13,000 staff at Tesco from next January which also followed a 2.5pc rise for over 3,000 staff at Marks and Spencer.

This comes to approximately €700-a-year and Mandate is optimistic that it will get rises for almost half its 45,000 members by next year.

Penneys and Boots had agreed to talks, but Dunnes had not yet responded.

"These people are on relatively low pay of little over €20,000 a year, but are working harder than they were in the boom due to cuts in staff numbers and other cost savings," said Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light.

He pointed out that staff at Penneys, which has 38 stores, had endured pay freezes, like most workers in the industry but the business themselves had "weathered the recession well".

However, employers' representative group Retail Excellence Ireland said the mass claim was unlikely to affect most of the 255,000 staff in the retail sector, as many stores were struggling.

Chief executive David Fitzsimons said he was surprised by the rises as the industry was still in decline. Pay freezes were still the norm and that was unlikely to change before 2014.