Over 6,000 Dunnes workers strike over part-time contracts
THOUSANDS of Dunnes Stores workers are striking today in protest at the use of part-time and zero-hour contracts at most of its 109 outlets around the country.
The trade union Mandate, which represents 6,000 members of the chain's workforce called the action with 67pc of its membership balloting to walk-out over the issue.
Dunnes Stores is set to take a big financial hit today, as a planned strike is likely to impact on alcohol sales which are traditionally high on Holy Thursday.
Sandra Stapleton was among the workers on the picket line at Liffey Valley shopping centre in west Dublin.
"We are here because of the widespread use of temporary contracts in Dunnes and widespread use of 15-hour contracts," said Ms Stapleton who is the Dublin north west Mandate organiser.
"People are finding it very difficult to plan their lives on 15 hours. They may get more than 15-hours but they can't budget on it or plan on it.
"If you go to a bank for a loan or a mortgage you might be getting 30 hours but on paper their contract is 15 hours, so they're not even getting credit union loans," Sandra explained.
"This has been going on for years. it is the uncertainty of those hours, and the lack of security of those hours that affects people. Most of the employees are on these contracts," she said.
While the Dunnes at Liffey Valley remained open today with some staff working, not many customers were venturing into the shop.
"We have had great support from the public and people coming over with coffees and sweets and things for us which is great, but we're not going to go name calling on workers or customers that cross the picket," Ms Stapleton added.
"People go in for their own personal reasons and we're respecting that. It's a peaceful picket," said Sandra.
"It's not an easy thing to do. It'll be a long day but it is absolutely necessary for the public to support the picket," she added.
"We hope it brings the problem more into the public's understanding. It's such an unfair system to have temporary contracts," she said.
Mandate spokesperson David Gibney said that the dispute centres around the managements failure to participate in "meaningful engagement" on the implementation of "banded hour contracts".
In a letter issued to staff last month, Dunnes said they will "not enter into direct discussions" with a trade union.