Dunnes Stores workers to strike on Thursday, 2 April
Mandate call on public to support decent work and respect Dunnes Stores pickets
Mandate Trade Union has confirmed this Thursday’s (2nd April) strike in Dunnes Stores is still due to go ahead across 109 stores in the Republic of Ireland [full list below] following the company’s continued refusal to meet with the workers’ representatives.
The Union says it is extremely disappointed Dunnes Senior Management is willing to force its own employees, most of whom are low paid, into taking industrial action, particularly as the strike is entirely avoidable.
Dunnes Stores employs almost 10,000 workers in the Republic of Ireland with Mandate representing two thirds of the workforce.
Muireann Dalton, Dunnes worker in Newtownmountkennedy said: “Nobody wants to go on strike, particularly when you’re in low-paid employment on precarious contracts. But sometimes you just have to take a stand.”
“All we’re asking for is respect. Respect for our right to be represented by our trade union and respect for our ability to earn a decent living so we can provide for our families. At the moment, with the contracts we have, we just can’t plan our lives.”
The four key issues in dispute include:
- Secure hours and earnings;
- Job security;
- Fair pay; and
- The right to trade union representation.
Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said: “Dunnes have left their workers with no other option other than industrial action following their refusal to meet to discuss all of the issues in dispute. The Company have also refused to accept a Labour Court Recommendation which clearly states they have an obligation to sit down with their workers’ chosen representatives.”
Mr Light praised the workers for their stance: “Dunnes workers have shown incredible courage and have remained resilient in the face of threats from their employer of job losses, cuts in hours and incomes, and the spreading of misinformation and lies.”
He added, “The strike is completely avoidable and all it would take to resolve the dispute is for Dunnes Stores to pick up the phone and commit to meaningfully engage with their workers representatives.”
At the heart of the dispute is low hour contracts of 15 hours which the Union says is being abused by the company.
“More than 85% of Dunnes workers say hours are being used as a control mechanism and as a way of disciplining staff,” said Mr Light.
“When a local manager can cut your hours from 38 to 15 at a whim, they have the power to control your ability to provide for your family. We’re talking about local managers having the capacity to reduce a workers’ income from €400 per week to €150 per week for any arbitrary reason,” he explained.
In many instances, the 15 hours are spread over five days preventing workers from obtaining supplementary social welfare or Family Income Supplement (FIS). Mr Light said this was the “insidious” element to the type of low hour contract that Dunnes Stores issues.
“Dunnes not only control the wages of their workers and their access to social welfare, they also prevent their workers from obtaining a second job without their explicit permission. There is a disgraceful abuse of power at play here,” said Mr Light.
Mandate Trade Union has a procedural agreement with Dunnes Stores which dates back to 1996. Despite freely signing up to this agreement, the company now says it “will not enter into direct discussions with a Trade Union”, in direct contravention to their collective agreement.
“What Dunnes workers are asking for is very reasonable. They’re asking for rights that are already afforded to workers in all of Dunnes Stores’ main competitors including Tesco, Penneys, Marks & Spencer, Supervalu and many others, where the workers have secure banded hour contracts and a right to representation.”
Mandate are calling on all members of the public to respect the picket on Thursday and do their shopping in a Fair Shop instead. Information on the Fair Shop campaign is available at www.fairshop.ie.
A survey of more than 1,200 Dunnes Stores workers conducted last year across the Republic of Ireland revealed:
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.