An appeal from a Dunnes Stores worker

I’m writing this to ask everyone working in Dunnes to support our strike this Thursday.

“I’ve never been one for getting really involved in the union, and never thought I’d be writing something like this or going on strike.

I’ve worked in Dunnes for 9 years, like most staff I’m on a 15 hour flexi contract. I’m the main earner in our house. My partner works for Dunnes aswell, but most weeks he only gets the 15 hours. We’ve a 2 year old daughter and she never wants for anything. I make sure of that. It means there’s weeks where me and Keith genuinely go hungry, or my Mam does a shop for us. It’s embarrassing. I’m a grown woman and I have a job. That job should give me enough money that I can afford to feed my family and pay my bills. On this contract I’m picking one or the other.

I’m ashamed to say that my child spent 18 months of her life living in a bedsit. I don’t blame myself or Keith for this. I blame Dunnes. We can’t get Family Income Supplement (FIS) because we can’t get a guaranteed 19 hours a week and we can’t get part-time social welfare because our hours are spread over 5 days.

Even though our manager knew of our living situation, he still insisted on rostering me for the early shift and Keith for the late. It meant Keith getting in from work at 1 in the morning, eating dinner in the dark so he wouldn’t wake us and then getting back up at 6.30 to let me go to work. It was madness. That’s no life for anyone, and it certainly isn’t the sort of life I want to live.

People working in other shops know what they’re going to earn each week, what hours they’ll be working and they have a right to be represented by their trade union. If it’s good enough for people working in Pennys, Tescos and M&S, why not us in Dunnes?

I’ve had my managers pull me into the office on a daily basis pressuring me not to go on strike. I’ve been told my hours will be cut to 15 permanently. I’ve been told I’ll be rostered for lates, making childcare arrangements impossible. I’ve been told the guards might arrest us on the day. There’s been letters threatening redundancies. Every time I’m in the office I tell them the same thing-we don’t want to go on strike, we have to. Dunnes haven’t left us with any other option. All it would take is for them to agree to meet with our representatives or attend the Labour Court.

I know there are people working in Dunnes who have secure hours and aren’t as affected by the strike as people like me. I truly want to thank you for your support. It makes me proud to think that so many of us will be standing together on Thursday. We can and we will make these changes.”