Workers to deliver Christmas wish list to Dunnes Stores management

Survey results show Dunnes workers want serious change

“We may be forced to take industrial action if our company doesn’t respond to our very reasonable demands,” Muireann Dalton, Dunnes worker

A delegation of Dunnes Stores workers will today (Friday, 19th December 2014) deliver a giant Christmas card to Dunnes Stores head office demanding the company stop ignoring their issues and deal with their collective demands.

The card has been signed by more than 1,300 Dunnes workers with the message, “Make Christmas for your workers” by providing:

  • Secure hours and earnings;
  • Job security;
  • Fair pay; and
  • The right to trade union representation.

The workers will also deliver the results of a survey completed by more than 1,300 Dunnes staff. The survey results state:

  • 76% of workers say they are on part time flexible contracts.
  • 98% of workers want more stable hours.
  • 85% say insecurity of hours and rostering is used as a method of control over workers.
  • 98% of workers want Dunnes to respect their right to trade union representation.

Dunnes Stores employs more than 10,000 workers in 112 stores across the Republic of Ireland.

Mandate Trade Union, which represents more than 4,000 workers at the company, said Dunnes cannot continue to put its head in the sand hoping these very important issues will go away.

Muireann Dalton, Dunnes worker said, “We’re delivering this festive Christmas card to senior management on behalf of the thousands of Dunnes workers like us who want real changes in how we are treated by our company. We want Dunnes to stop rejecting our attempts through our union and the efforts of the Labour Court to resolve our concerns, particularly in relation to insecurity of hours and the right to representation.”

She added, “Our demands are very reasonable and they’re rights that other workers in the retail sector already have. If Dunnes continue to ignore and dismiss us, we have no other option but to consider other forms of action against the company.”

Thousands of Dunnes workers are on part-time precarious contracts with no security over their hours or their income making it difficult to plan their lives and their finances. Mandate say this is completely unnacceptable from one of the largest and most successful private sector employers in the country.

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary, “This survey gives us a very clear insight into how workers in Dunnes feel. The company has refused to meet with the workers’ chosen representatives and have ignored the Labour Court. They insist there is no ‘dispute’ but everybody can see this is just nonsense. It is in the best interests of both the company and the workers that management do the right thing and engage with their workers’ in a meaningful way.”


Full survey results include:

  • 76% of workers say they are on part time flexible contracts.
  • 98% of workers want more stable hours.
  • 85% say insecurity of hours and rostering is used as a method of control.
  • 98% of workers want Dunnes to respect their right to trade union representation.
  • 88% of workers believe hours are unfairly distributed.
  • 97% of workers believe that if hours become available in their store, they should be offered to existing staff in the first instance.
  • 89% say it is common practice that new staff on lesser terms and lesser rates of pay receive more hours than longer serving staff on better terms.
  • 83% say temporary contracts are being used outside of busy trading periods and Christmas.
  • 88% feel Dunnes workers are not treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.

The petition signed by 1,300 workers says:

I strongly condemn the fact that Dunnes Stores management has rejected all reasonable attempts by my Union and the Labour Court to address our collective issues and concerns re: security of hours and earnings, pay, job security and union representation. If the Company continues to reject our efforts, we will be left with no other option than to consider taking other forms of action, up to and including industrial action, to have our issues resolved.

A sample of the 350 comments supplied by Dunnes workers through the Decency for Dunnes Workers’ survey:

  • Fixed hourly contracts need to be brought in badly, I have a young baby and rent and bills to pay, as well put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
  • After 11 years in the job I still don’t know my weekly wage from one week to another because I don’t have a “set” contract.
  • Dunnes are removing anything that has any reference to the union and has also threatened to discipline any member of staff who talk about the union or have, for example, a union pen.
  • Dunnes continue to employ new staff and then cut our hours even further just because the new staff are on a lower wage! The distribution of hours is also uneven amongst established staff members.
  • Dunnes employed the new staff and later divided 15 hours for everyone instead of giving more hours to existing workers. These 15 hours are divided over 4 working days, so we cannot get any social welfare help as well. No one cares how we can pay our bills.
  • I have had a lack of hours used as a threat against me. I have heard managers talk about using hours to teach staff a lesson. I’ve also seen people being moved to departments they don’t like as a way of pushing them out.
  • I have never missed a day in my ten years with Dunnes. I really feel I deserve much better at this stage. I should have a decent full-time contract.
  • I have worked for Dunnes for 12 years. At this stage I’m trained in nearly all departments. I never call in sick nor do I ever have to be reprimanded about anything. I am now married with kids and a mortgage and I feel sometimes like I cannot provide enough for my family. I think after working loyally for the company for so many years I should be entitled to more dignity and respect. I think I should be entitled to a full time contract. I don’t think I should be worried every week about how much money
  • I’m going to have the following week. I have no problem doing any amount of work for Dunnes in fact I relish being busy, but having to do so much on such a tiny timeframe every day is stressful. All I want is job stability and security, at the moment I can’t even afford to put aside some savings or indeed pay money towards a pension for myself.
  • I just want to be respected and treated right.
  • I tell them I can’t work between 2pm and 5pm because of child care issues. They say they won’t give me them but they keep putting me in 2-6pm shift. They are trying to push me out after 9 years as I’m on old contact and higher wage to be replaced by young cheap staff on new contract.
  • It is almost impossible to get any weekend days off as I am on a flexi contract and have to be available 7 days a week. So my days off are usually Monday and Tuesday and this is in my opinion is anti-family and anti-social.
  • I just want to know my hours in advance. I have a child and have to make last minute arrangements every week.
  • I never get a weekend off, always have to work Saturdays or Sundays and usually both together, since I started working in Dunnes four years ago I have had four weekends off.
  • Why if I only get 15 hours is it spread over 5 days why I can’t just get it over 3? I’m hard working mother of two and it would be cheaper for me to sit at home then go to work for 150 euro per week. It’s humiliating that unemployed people have more money to live then me!