Dunnes management ‘don’t speak’ to striking staff
2 April 2015 | 0
Thousands of Dunnes Stores staff have been striking at stores across the country from 6am this morning.
Labour and Sinn Fein TDs including Gerry Adams and Mary-Lou McDonald turned out to support the workers on the picket line outside Dunnes Stores, St Stephen’s Green branch.
ShelfLife spoke to St Stephen’s Green shop steward Michelle Rossiter on the picket line.
When asked if she was worried about potential redundancies as a result of the strike action, she replied that she was “worried about going back into work tomorrow”. Rossiter said management “don’t speak” to the trade union staff, which made the work environment “very difficult”, “awkward” and “stressful”.
However she said the workers had received a “great response” from the public who are aware of the ‘Decency for Dunnes workers’ campaign and have “all come out and all wished us all well”. She added that Sinn Fein and Labour TDs had also turned out to show their support for the workers as well as representatives from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO) and Ulster Bank union.
Rossiter said “nobody” had passed through the picket line apart from a “couple of strays”.
She hoped that even if Dunnes Stores’ management did not agree to “talk to a third party”, that they would at least discuss the issues with “representatives from ourselves”.
Dunnes Stores has not issued a public statement on the dispute, but has previously warned staff of possible layoffs and redundancies if “harm” was inflicted on the company as a result of industrial action.
The company’s management also said it was their constitutional right not to engage with a trade union.
ShelfLife spoke to Mandate trade union general secretary Gerry Light earlier this week who responded to Dunnes’ position regarding its constitutional rights: “Nobody could argue against that, that’s black and white. But what I would say to Dunnes, as I’ve been saying to them for the last number of months, this is not about being legally forced to do something. This is about doing something because it’s the right thing to do and there’s a moral responsibility on an employer and particularly an employer such as Dunnes Stores, who has established itself over many years now, and is hugely profitable.”
He added that Dunnes’ management “have absolutely no right to maintain [a] competitive advantage”, over companies who have already sat down with the trade union and negotiated ‘banded contracts’ for their workers, beginning with a minimum of 18 – 20 hours for workers every week.