‘Despicable’ treatment of Dunnes staff condemned

Dunnes Stores workers pictured on strike in Waterford on Thursday, April 2nd.  										| Photo: Noel Browne

Dunnes Stores workers pictured on strike in Waterford on Thursday, April 2nd. | Photo: Noel Browne

While no Dunnes Stores workers in Waterford or Dungarvan are believed to have been dismissed in the wake of the one-day work stoppage taken on April 2nd, ’some changes’ to work hours in the county have been noted.

Mandate’s Bill Kelly told The Munster Express that the “disproportionate action” which had been taken against other Dunnes workers in the wake of the April 2nd strike had not been brought to his attention locally.

However, he noted, that “there have been some changes in the county” in relation to shift patterns, and described the reaction of management at Dunnes to the strike as “despicable”.

“There should be an incentive for people to work, to earn a wage which allows them to pay their bills and feed their children,” said Mr Kelly.

“Part-time workers at Dunnes deserve additional safeguards, and if management enter into meaningful negotiations and realise the clear benefits in taking a collective approach, there is an acceptable pathway to resolution when it comes to this entire matter.”

Pleading with Jobs Minister Ged Nash to “swiftly implement” collective bargaining legislation, Mandate Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light has written to the Minister to highlight the ‘targeting’ of workers who took part in the strike.

It adds ” proof if ever it was needed that forthcoming legislation on collective bargaining was absolutely necessary and it must be made as robust as the Government can possibly make it,” Mr Light wrote.

Waterford Senator David Cullinane, who is also Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, joined in the chorus of disapproval in the wake of the post April 2nd developments.

“Though management and owners of Dunnes Stores are responsible for this deplorable treatment of staff, the Government have also had a part to play,” said Senator Cullinane.

“The absence of collective bargaining and strong anti-victimisation in the workplace legislation has allowed unscrupulous employers such as Dunnes Stores to treat workers in this fashion.”

Such “bullying and harassment from an employer has no place in 21st Century Ireland,” said Senator Cullinane.
“These are low paid workers who were shabbily treated by their employer. Having stood up for their rights, they are as a consequence being targeted and victimised by their employers.”

David Cullinane noted that legislation proposed by his party in relation to the protection of workers and the provision of “proper trade union representation” had been voted down by the present government and previous administrations.

“While the primary responsibly lies with the management and ownership of Dunnes Stores, the Government must also bear responsibility for their failure to protect workers,” he stated.

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