Striking workers must not be unfairly treated by Dunnes Management – Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned senior management at Dunnes Stores against victimising workers taking part in strike action today.
Ní Riada said:
“In the lead up to today's strike I have heard allegations of bullying, intimidation, and unfair treatment by management. Many workers on 15 hour contracts, who would normally have their weekly hours spread over four or five days, have been asked to work up to twelve hours today, knowing that they cannot afford to lose the majority of their weekly earnings. Temporary workers have been warned that their contracts will not be renewed if they participate in industrial action, and workers have been told that agreed annual leave will not be allocated if they strike.
“There are reports of staff being threatened with disciplinary action, with having their hours reduced to the bare minimum, and with being allocated hours designed to be as disruptive as possible to their family needs. Dunnes Stores recently warned staff that today's strike could result in redundancies.
“I want to commend the workers for their stand and acknowledge their courage. To take industrial action, in the face of threats and bullying is not easy, especially when they threaten your livelihood.
“Bullying in the workplace is wrong. Threatening and intimidating workers is wrong. Blackmailing vulnerable workers to ensure compliance is wrong.
“I will be staying in close contact with workers and their representatives over the coming weeks and months. I am warning Dunnes Management against any listing, singling out, disciplining or unfair treatment of workers as a result of their participation in industrial action.
"Management have the power to resolve this dispute. They would be better advised to engage with the workers' representatives in Mandate Trade Union rather than threatening and intimidating workers."
Photo: Liadh Ní Riada MEP and Cllr Des O'Grady with striking Dunnes Stores workers today in Ballincollig, Co. Cork
Text of Letter below
20 Bóthar an Choimín,
An Linn Dubh,
46-50 South Great George's Street,
1 April 2015
Dear Mr. Frank Dunne, Ms. Margaret Heffernan, Mr. Michael Heffernan, Mr. Dick Reeves and Mr. John McNiffe,
I am writing to you as a Member of the European Parliament, representing the people of Ireland’s South constituency. I want to put on the record my support for the strike that will be undertaken by Dunnes Stores employees tomorrow.
I support their strike because I recognise that your senior management team have left them with no other choice but to withdraw their labour and picket their workplaces.
You could avoid this strike and future industrial action by engaging with Mandate and entering into discussions around the reasonable demands of the workers.
Dunnes Stores signed a collective agreement with Mandate in 2006 and recent recommendations from the Labour Court require you to engage with the workers’ chosen representatives. Mandate represents two-thirds of your workforce. To continue to ignore them is an affront to your employees and to the principles of collective bargaining.
I am conscious of the difficult market in which Irish retailers operate and the challenges faced by employers, however your major grocery and drapery competitors respect the right of workers to be represented by their union. I can see no reason why Dunnes Stores should not do the same.
It is your workers that have allowed you to build a successful business, and they deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. The issues raised by workers around decent hours and earnings, job security, fair pay and representation are more than reasonable.
I will be staying in close contact with workers and their representatives over the coming weeks and months. I trust that there will be no listing, singling out or unfair treatment of workers as a result of their participation in industrial action.
I will continue to support the demands of workers at Dunnes for security, fairness and respect. I have called on the public to support the workers and to respect their picket.
You are the architects of this dispute and you have the power to resolve it. I once again urge you to engage with Mandate in an open and fair way.
Liadh Ní Riada MEP