Thursday 20 October 2016

Dunnes Stores loses millions but strikes may go on

Dunnes stores workers pictured picketing outside Dunnes Henry Street, Dublin
Dunnes stores workers pictured picketing outside Dunnes Henry Street, Dublin

DUNNES Stores lost millions of euro in revenue yesterday but employees may continue further strike action if their demands are not met.

The Mandate trade union, which represents around two-thirds of Dunnes Stores’ 10,000 workers nationwide, said that there needs to be some resolution to the dispute over low-hour contracts, job security and worker representation.

The union said it would be up to members to determine the next step in the dispute if Dunnes Stores failed to honour a Labour Court recommendation to sit down with workers’ representatives.

The action was supported by other trade unions and politicians including the Tanaiste Joan Burton, a former Dunnes Stores worker herself, who said it made “good sense” for company bosses to be involved in industrial relations.

The long-running dispute relates to 15-hour contracts which mean workers can be deployed for as little as three-hours a day across a week. Workers are also unhappy that working hours can be reduced at a whim and claim the contracts are used by the company as “a punitive measure” against some staff.

Outside Dunnes Stores on Henry Street, Sarah Browne (26) from Walkinstown, said her income can range significantly from one week to the next.

“I had to take my child out of a creche because the hours were too unstable.

“He might be in one day one week and two days the next week,” she explained.

“Because it was so unstable the creche said they couldn’t keep the place and they had to offer it to someone else.”

The Tanaiste came under fire in the Dail by Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald who said the Government had failed to improve industrial relations law since taking office.

However, she said that the Government would be publishing collective bargaining legislation before the summer which will allow the circuit court force employers to engage with workers.

 “The workers feel very let down here today that they were left with no option but to take this action,” said Lorraine O’Brien of Mandate.

Around 4,000 Dunnes workers, including some Mandate members, did not take part in yesterday’s action.

Dunnes Stores did not comment.


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