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Government plays cynical game with Dunnes workers livelihoods

This week in the Oireachtas workers on insecure hour contracts became collateral damage in a cynical game of power play politics by the government. A disgraceful ploy to block the David Cullinane TD sponsored Banded Hours Contract Bill was concocted by raising a spurious money message mechanism which government conveniently uses to halt the progress of opposition bills that have a genuine chance of succeeding in the Dail.

It seems almost irrelevant to the government that in halting the progress of this important piece of legislation many workers on precarious and insecure contracts who are struggling day and daily to plan their lives and to pay their bills will be the losers by this insidious government political chicanery.

Over the past 18 months Sinn Fein worked closely with Mandate on developing the Banded Hours Contract Bill to allow workers achieve some security in their income and their hours.

The Bill was passed by the Dail at Second Stage on 17th July 2016, with a deferral for 12 months pending legislative scrutiny in the Jobs Committee. This committee heard from over 40 witnesses – including Mandate, ICTU, IBEC and academics – and it produced a 52 page report with 21 recommendations on strengthening and improving the legislation.

David Cullinane TD, the original mover of the Bill, told the committee that he was happy to see all those recommendations incorporated into the Bill. Subsequently, on the 20th September 2017 the Business Committee agreed to allow the Bill to return to committee for amendments. Given the intense scrutiny applied to this Bill over a protracted period and its broad cross-party support, pending the amendments, on the Jobs Committee chaired by Mary Burke FF TD, it is truly incredible that all this time, effort and excellent work can be destroyed at the stroke of a pen by government mandarins intent on denying opposition parties from having good protective legislation enacted.

In April 2015 Dunnes Stores workers took industrial action to achieve income security in their employment. They want and need Banded Hour contracts which would allow them the ability to better plan their lives. This Bill took on much greater urgency for workers when the Labour Court agreed to suspend a case between Mandate and Dunnes Stores for a period of six months pending the passing of the Bill as its incorporation into law would settle the issues raised by the case.

This six month hiatus ends in February 2018 and the government hatchet job imposed now on this important Bill means that the likelihood of getting any decent legislation to protect workers enacted before that date is looking increasingly unlikely. Given the time-sensitive nature of the suspended Labour Court case it almost defies belief that the government would put its own narrow political self-interest above that of low paid workers in precarious type employment. Shame on them for doing so.

David Cullinane TD sought leave to refer the bill to committee for implementation, which was granted by the Dail on 3rd October 2017, but the “money message” barrier was dropped on the Bill afterwards. The ridiculous reason given for delaying this Bill was that it would increase the workload of the Workplace Relations Committee thus requiring additional resources. Government Bills with a money message can be turned around in less than three weeks but opposition Bills do not receive any attention whatsoever. In fact, every single opposition Bill passed at second stage by the Dail this year is still awaiting developments on the money message issue.

If this Bill was about bailing out a failing bank or to help the government refuse to accept billions from their friends in multi-national companies who aren’t paying their fair share of this country’s tax burden then the legislation would be delivered wrapped in a gold bow in the morning. The fact that this Bill was trying to assist workers on low hour contracts to achieve a fairer deal from their employer would appear largely irrelevant to the government and their faceless and nameless bureaucrats who assist them in regularly screwing workers in favour of profitable businesses.

Workers on low hour contracts cannot get a mortgage. They cannot adequately plan their lives as they live in limbo with uncertain hours. They cannot guarantee they will be able to pay their bills from week to week and must make stark choices on what they can purchase with the little money they have at their disposal. These workers needed urgent action and the genuine concern is that the government recent promise by Minister Regina Doherty to deliver soon on banded hour contracts will be a much more watered down and frankly useless piece of legislation that will further enslave these downtrodden and forgotten workers who deserve much better from their government.

Mandate has serious reservations that the governments intended Banded Hours Legislation will either now be delayed with the absence of the Sinn Fein Bill or that it will be an ineffective and dangerous piece of legislation that doesn’t protect workers whatsoever. We have concerns that the government will not implement strong and robust legislation because the Heads of Bill produced so far indicate a real lack of understanding about the predicament many of these workers face. Minister Regina Doherty’s recent public utterances also indicate no intention whatsoever of banning zero hour contracts and “if and when” contracts. That is a national disgrace and we will not stand idly by and allow that to happen unchallenged.

The Sinn Fein Bill is a strong, well balanced and highly scrutinised piece of legislation that deserves to be adopted and made into law. Unfortunately, good and sound legislation is not a major priority for this government based on their actions. Sinn Fein, and in particular David Cullinane TD and Conor McCabe Parliamentary Advisor, are to be commended for their dedicated and hard work over the past 18 months towards developing legislation that would actually do something to protect vulnerable workers.

Mandate will continue to campaign vigorously and lobby intensively over the coming weeks and months to challenge any attempt by government to implement weak and bad legislation. Any watered down alternative to the Sinn Fein Bill will be challenged robustly by our members and we will support them with everything at our disposal. We are committed to the principles of Decent Work and refuse to accept anything less. Mandate’s Decent Work campaign roadshow will be coming to a venue near you over the coming months so make it your business to get along to hear about what’s really happening in Irish society today and join collectively with many other like-minded workers in fighting back and delivering a better Ireland.

www.joinmandate.ie

Dunnes Stores concede Mandate Trade Union claim for 3% Pay Increase 2017

Mandate Trade Union today welcomed the announcement to award its members employed in Dunnes Stores a 3% pay increase for 2017/18 effective from 3rd October 2017.

This is the fifth consecutive concession of a 3% pay claim by Mandate Trade Union for Dunnes Stores workers in as many years.

Mr Gerry Light, Assistant General Secretary stated:

“This declaration by management comes in the wake of a pay and benefits claim served by the Union on the employer earlier this year”.

Mr Light added: “whilst the pay increase is welcome, we are conscious that the other important elements of the Union’s claim have not as yet been addressed by the Company”.

These aspects of the claim include the following:

  • Introduction of a banded hours framework to secure certainty of weekly working hours
  • Creation of an agreed number of additional full time jobs
  • Application of staff discounts to all Union members

Mr Light concluded: “It now appears that Dunnes Stores management have no intention of dealing with the entirety of the Union’s claim. Therefore the matter will have to be pursued through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Labour Court if necessary.

If you work in the retail, bar or administrative sectors, you can join your Union by clicking here.

Employers launch campaign to stop workers from having secure incomes

This morning IBEC and the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) appear to have commenced a campaign to prevent low paid and vulnerable workers from achieving any form of secure incomes.

Both organisations were afforded a free run on the national airwaves to discuss the government’s pending legislation which would give workers more security over their hours at work and therefore their incomes.

  • IBEC had an uncontested appearance on the most listened to radio show in the country, RTE’s Morning Ireland.
  • The RAI were afforded free reign on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

It would seem that no trade union representing workers who would be affected by this legislation were asked to participate in either show, which allowed the employers’ bodies to spin, misinform and lie.

Background

In 2014 Mandate surveyed members in Dunnes Stores, one of the largest private sector employers in the country with 10,000 staff. Dunnes management generally issue 15 hour contracts, but in reality, the average hours worked is closer to 26.

However, should a worker step out of line, lodge a grievance, join a union or a local manager take a dislike to a worker, they can have their hours slashed to 15. Furthermore, spreading those 15 hours over a number of days means the workers’ income is significantly reduced and they cannot access Family Income Supplement (FIS) or part-time social welfare, effectively allowing the employer to manage a worker out of their job by pushing them into poverty.

More than 85 percent of those surveyed stated that allocation of hours was being used as a control mechanism over them. Another regressive element to this type of contract is that workers cannot obtain loans or mortgages because the banks only look at their contracted hours, which in the case of Dunnes Stores workers, means they can only obtain a mortgage of between €25,000 and €35,000. This forces them into the private rental sector where they simply cannot afford to live because of increased rents.

More than 6,000 Dunnes Stores workers took industrial action in April 2015 in order to achieve security over their incomes. TD’s and political representatives from all political parties attended the picket lines, with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny stating that he supported Dunnes Stores workers’ right to know what hours and incomes they would have.

The strike led to the government instigating a study into the prevalence of this type of contract through the University of Limerick. This study showed that while zero hour contracts are not prevalent, “If and When” contracts, like the Dunnes Stores workers’ contracts, are “prevalent in the accommodation/food and retail sectors and in certain occupations in education and health: community care work, so-called ‘bank’ nursing, general practice nursing, university/institute of technology lecturing, adult education tutoring, school substitution, caretaking, and secretarial and cleaning work”.

So this is a big problem.

Legislation

Immediately after the Dunnes Stores strike, the employer moved on workers who participated in industrial action. They launched a campaign of retribution, using the very issue the workers were highlighting against them. They slashed striking workers’ hours down to 15.

The solution then became an issue for legislators because it is unfair to ask workers in such precarious circumstances to strike when this action can be used against them.

Mandate lobbied all political parties for a change in legislation that would simply allow workers to obtain a contract of employment which reflected the hours they actually work.

Banded Hours Contacts Bill (2016)

David Cullinane TD from Sinn Fein launched this Bill in the summer of 2016. The Bill would enable workers to request a new contract that reflected the average hours worked over the previous six months (as recommended by the University of Limerick report). It would place workers inside a “band” of hours and give them certainty of earnings. This Bill was unanimously supported by the Dail, but Fianna Fail introduced an amendment to delay the Bill by 12 months so that all stakeholders could be consulted. The Bill has now proceeded through the Joint Oireachtas Committee, which had inputs from trade unions, legal experts, business representatives, academics and more. The JOC has now made 23 recommendations – including the increase of the six month “look-back period” to twelve months.

Uncertain Hours Bill

This Bill was put forward in the Seanad by the Labour Parties Ged Nash. It would do similar to the Banded Hours Contracts Bill, but significantly this Bill included anti-victimisation clauses for workers attempting to obtain contracts that reflect the hours they work. The JOC included this in its recommendations under the Banded Hours Contracts Bill.

Government Bill

The government has now announced that it will be prioritising a piece of legislation that will address the concerns of low hour contract workers. Early indications are that this Bill (which hasn’t been published yet) will have an 18 month look back period. Mandate’s position is that this is unacceptable. It allows employers the ability to manipulate hours to ensure workers cannot achieve a decent, secure income.

The Government Bill should at the very least match what was unanimously agreed in the cross party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs.

The Employers’ campaign for insecure work

Today the employers’ lobby is out in full force scaremongering about giving workers security over their incomes.

“It’s the disproportionate nature of a piece of legislation such as the one being proposed,” said Maeve McElwee, Director of Employer Relations with IBEC.

IBEC selectively used elements of the University of Limerick report to try to delay the Bill or block it from passing.

“We don’t have a very significant problem in Ireland with zero hours contracts,” said Ms McElwee.

What she failed to mention was that in Ireland, these zero-hour practices are known as “If and When” practices, which do exactly the same thing.

She goes on to say there are only 5.3 percent of the labour force on “constantly variable working hours” and those on low hours within that are about 2.6 percent.

Sound impressive. Almost as if this barely effects anyone at all, so what’s the point in legislating for the very low 2.6 percent of workers being abused in this way? But look deeper.

Some workers will be on 10 hour contracts for 15 or 20 years, but regularly work 35 hours. They are not considered in this category because they are not working “constantly variable working hours”, despite the fact that they can have their hours slashed at any time should a local manager take offence to them. Then the 2.6 percent is only from within this category, but it doesn’t tell you that more than 8 percent of the workforce (200,000 workers) are on low hour contracts according to the University of Limerick Report she has already quoted from.

Ms McElwee explained that, “The issue and concerns that we have is around the actual cost of this particular piece of legislation.”

What costs? The Bill would only allow workers to achieve the hours they are already working. There’s no cost.

Interestingly, Ms McElwee attempts to frighten workers about the potential impacts of this legislation.

“This will apply to every employer in the state. It will apply to every employee, whether or not you are working on a, hourly paid contract or not. All salaried employees, all part time employees. It will impact on an employer’s ability to be able to vary your hours upwards because you will be in a band of hours. It will impact on people’s ability to be able to consider a-typical working arrangements, flexibilities, e-working…”

Now this is absolutely disgraceful scaremongering. The legislation only takes effect when a worker requests a review of their hours. They don’t have to request it if they don’t want. And it will not prevent an employer from increasing a workers’ hours above the band of hours should the worker wish to receive more hours. Ms McElwee knows this all too well, but spreads the misinformation anyway.

She continues, “We haven’t seen any regulatory impact assessment undertaken by the government, to consider what the economic cost to employers, themselves included, will be.”

Now this is where it gets interesting. As stated earlier, there is no cost. So why would Ms McElwee say this? Well we would argue that she’s attempting to scare politicians, particularly the government, into thinking there will be huge costs if, god forbid, public sector workers are afforded secure hour contracts too. Also, if there is a cost to the government, this means it would need a money bill which would delay the passing of legislation. This is absolutely not the case, it’s simply disingenuous scaremongering.

We repeat, this legislation would only allow workers a contract that reflects the hours that they are already working.

Including the “regulatory impact assessment” as a request links in this interview with the interview by the Restaurant’s Association of Ireland on Pat Kenny’s Newstalk a number of hours later. Adrian Cummins, the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland called for the exact same thing – which indicates that the employers’ bodies are working together on this campaign to prevent legislation proceeding.

One of the more bizarre elements of Mr Cummins statement includes:

“As a representative of an employers’ body in this country, I find it incredible that we can’t get a meeting with those that are drawing up the legislation. It’s a stone wall, take it or leave it attitude in this country. And if we can get into a room, and sit down, put heads together, we can draw up proper legislation that is fit for purpose for everybody.”

It’s strange, then, that Mr Cummins attended a Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing on the 14th February 2017 to discuss these very issues. In fact, the day he was in the Joint Oireactas Committee, he was joined by Patricia Callan of the Small Firms Association (SFA), Tim Fenn from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and two weeks before ISME, IBEC and Chambers Ireland attended the same Oireachtas Committee to discuss this issue. So be under no illusion, employers have already had their say on this issue and have been part of this process.

Mr Cummins said, “Before anybody does anything and it’s signed into law, let’s look at the costs of doing business in this country because we don’t want to get back to the scenario, in 2008-2009 where running a business was, you know, the costs was so high, they were going to the wall.”

Two things:

  • Firstly, that is simply not why businesses went bust in 2008-2009. They went bust because the government guaranteed private debt and implemented austerity measures to cover it, reducing spending in the economy and putting pressure on workers and subsequently on businesses.
  • Secondly, again, this legislation is cost neutral.

Mr Cummins explained that the University of Limerick Report stated that the retail, healthcare and education sectors had low hour contracts, “but not so much in hospitality area, but we’re all being painted with the same brush at the moment, as bad employers or poor employers or whatever you want to call us”.

This is not true. The Report clearly stated that “If and When” contracts are “prevalent in the accommodation/food and retail sectors…”

It would be interesting to hear what Mr Cummins thinks about the Workplace Relations Commissions’ 2016 Report which states that out of 717 inspections in the Food & Drink industry, almost half (48%) of all employers were in breach of legislation and €332,903 in unpaid wages was returned to workers. That’s an average of €464 per inspection. If this is replicated across the industry, it could be tens of millions of unpaid wages that employers are stealing from their employees on an annual basis. Not exactly an industry full of good employers by the looks of it. But to be fair, exploitation exists in all industries in Ireland.

Mr Cummins called for more consultations. He calls for the regulatory impact assessment to take place before any legislation is passed. This is simply another delay tactic. Workers have been waiting years for this legislation to pass. It has been debated up and down the Oireachtas in Committee’s, in the Dail Chamber, in the Seanad, and the business lobby, including IBEC and the RAI have been party to this.

Earlier today Patricia King, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s stated, “As employers are already required by law to keep working time records there is nothing in these proposals that would result in any new or additional administrative or regulatory burden, for them.

“Ultimately, the only beneficiaries from increased casualisation in the workforce are bad and exploitative employers. Good employers have nothing to fear from these proposals,” Ms King said.

So today Mandate Trade Union are calling on good employers and employers’ representatives to stop misleading the public, and we’re calling on all members of the Oireachtas to end the delays. Low paid and vulnerable workers have waited long enough. Pass the legislation now.

Mandate Trade Union is the union for retail, bar and administrative workers. You can find out more and join Mandate by clicking here.

Dunnes Workers’ Labour Court Hearing Adjourned

The Labour Court yesterday (Wednesday 2nd August 2017) adjourned the Dunnes Stores workers’ Labour Court case for six months pending the introduction of new primary legislation which has the potential to address the workers’ claims.

The Court was informed that two specific pieces of legislation are progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas which would give Dunnes Stores workers, and all other workers in Ireland, the right to secure hour contracts.

Mandate can re-enter the case at any time over the coming months should the legislation not materialise or if it doesn’t address the serious concerns of Dunnes workers.

The first of these pieces of legislation is the Banded Hour Contracts Bill 2016, which was sponsored by Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane. This Bill, if passed, would enable workers to have a contract that reflects the hours they actually work. The government are also planning to introduce legislation in September which would address the key issues contained in the Mandate v Dunnes Stores Labour Court case.

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said: “It is clear to us that Dunnes Stores management plans to fight tooth and nail to prevent their workers from having security over their hours and their incomes. They have threatened to challenge the legislation we brought this case under – the Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2015 – in every possible way, simply because they don’t want Dunnes workers to have what other retail workers have, a decent, secure income.”

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Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary

He added, “It is shameful that Dunnes management would behave in this way, and in the two years since the Dunnes Stores strike, they have continued their arrogant and reprehensible treatment of their own loyal staff.”

Mr Light explained that the Union and its members would commence a campaign for the swift passing of legislation by all members of the Oireachtas.

“Our members have waited long enough,” said Mr Light. “We had TD’s from every political party down at the picket lines in 2015 promising the workers their support. The Taoiseach of the day said he believed Dunnes workers should ‘have clarity about their working lives.’ Since then, very little has happened to give Dunnes and other workers security over their incomes. This is simply not good enough.”

The Banded Hours Contracts Bill has now progressed through the Joint Oireachtas Committee but is waiting for amendments to be ratified.

Mr Light said, “If there was an appetite from Fine Gael, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fail to sort this issue out, it could be done in September. That’s why we’re going to need all of the Dunnes workers, other Mandate members and the rest of the trade union movement to lobby these politicians and put pressure on them to pass this legislation as a matter of urgency.

More details on this campaign to follow.

Dunnes Stores pay claim

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Mandate Trade Union lodged a 3 percent pay claim for all Dunnes Stores workers in April 2017. Since then, Dunnes Stores have refused to respond to the claim. Mandate has this week referred the pay claim to the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC).

Dunnes Stores refusing to put new members onto payroll deduction

Since last October, Dunnes Stores have refused to process new members into the Union when they chose to pay Union dues through wages (deduction at source). This is in direct contravention of agreements and practices between Mandate and Dunnes Stores going back decades.

New members are encouraged to join on Mandate’s new online payment system at www.joinmandate.ie

Furthermore the company has also failed to implement last year’s subscription increase of 20 cent in Union deductions from wages.

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said: “This is a deliberate attempt by Dunnes Stores to weaken your Union financially and harm our ability to effectively deal with the issues that matter to you and your fellow members both now and in the future.”

He added, “In light of this attack on your Union we have decided that all new applications for membership should be referred to our new on-line payment system.  This is a very simple method of enrolment and payment for new members.

“Perspective members can easily choose whether to pay their union subscriptions weekly or monthly with their debit or credit card.  This system will remove the need for paper application forms as all details can be provided on-line at the enrolment stage.  New members should be directed to sign up to Mandate at www.joinmandate.ie.

Organise, Organise, Organise

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If Dunnes Stores workers are to ensure that we achieve secure hour contracts and a decent living wage over the coming years, it is imperative that we continue to organise and get as many Dunnes Stores workers into our union as possible. This will enable us to lobby more effectively and prepare to take action when necessary.

Gerry Light said: “Together we have achieved a lot in recent years. Very few other workers have managed to win a 12% pay increase in four years, but that could be better if we were stronger.”

He added, “While we are developing the next steps in our Decency for Dunnes Workers campaign, which will include political lobbying and pressuring the government, it is in our own interests that we talk to the workers in our store that have not yet joined Mandate and convince them to join our campaign and our union. The path to making real progress in the workplace is for workers to use their collective power at the negotiating table, the more members we have the powerful we are.”

 

Mandate v Dunnes Stores Labour Court hearing rescheduled for late June

The Mandate Trade Union v Dunnes Stores case at the Labour Court in relation to security over hours and incomes for Dunnes Stores workers has been delayed until mid/late June.

While Dunnes Stores and their Senior Counsel attended the hearing, the Court is still dealing with ‘preliminary issues’ and Dunnes Stores made it clear they will be contesting Mandate’s claims.

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said: “It is extremely frustrating that the case has been delayed but we will continue to pursue this important issue until it is resolved to the satisfaction of our members in Dunnes Stores.”

He added, “While the case may be delayed, Mandate will also continue to pressure government to introduce legislation which would give Dunnes workers and all other workers in Ireland security over their hours and their incomes.”

More information will be issued in due course but here is a broader update on the new legislation proposed by government.

A big week for the Decency for Dunnes Workers campaign

The front page of yesterday’s (Sunday, 8th May 2017) Sunday Business Post was dominated by a headline stating “Dunnes Stores to be hit in workers’ rights crackdown.” The subheadings continued:

  • “New law means workers will be legally entitled to new agreements
  • Majority of Dunnes Stores’ 10,000 staff are on 15 hour contracts”

Over the last two years, the Decency for Dunnes Workers campaign has been lobbying all politicians from all parties to support the Dunnes Stores workers and legislate to allow them to have certainty over the hours they work.

Subsequently, there are now three pieces of legislation progressing through the Oireachtas which, if implemented properly, would have the capacity to address the insecurity over weekly hours faced by a large proportion of Dunnes workers.

  • Sinn Fein put forward the Banded Hours Contracts Bill 2016 in July last year which passed second stage in the Dail and is now at a consultation phase in the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Unfortunately this Bill cannot pass any further stages due to an amendment submitted by Fianna Fail preventing the Bill from progressing for 12 months.
  • The Labour Party submitted the Protection of Employment (Uncertain Hours Bill) 2016 which passed unanimously through the Seanad last November. This Bill has not progressed any further at this stage.
  • Last week the Government published details of a Bill they intend passing which would address some of the issues Dunnes workers face but the Bill has several flaws and Mandate intends to lobby for amendments to better address the key issues affecting Dunnes workers.

In the meantime, while waiting for these Bills to pass through the Oireachtas, Mandate has proceeded with a case on behalf of Dunnes workers to the Labour Court under the Industrial (Amendment) Act 2015 to address the insecurity over weekly hours at work. That case is to be heard before the Labour Court tomorrow (Tuesday, 9th May 2017).

This case comes following the Dunnes Stores strike in April 2015 when the government of the day promised to bring in ‘collective bargaining’ legislation in order to help Dunnes workers achieve certainty of hours and earnings. Mandate has already progressed through the preliminary hearing and the full case will now be heard by the Labour Court.

The action taken by Dunnes workers on 2nd April 2015 led to these pieces of legislation being developed, and while they haven’t passed just yet, there is now no doubt that there will be stronger protections for all workers in Ireland as a result.

There will be more updates later this week and as these pieces of legislation progress through the Oireachtas.

View the Decency for Dunnes Workers coverage in the Sunday Business Post by clicking the link below:

Dunnes Coverage

Dunnes Update Circular

Labour Court Hearing Date:  Tuesday 9th May 2017

We have received confirmation from the Labour Court that the next hearing regarding our claim for greater certainty of weekly working hours for our members in Dunnes will take place on Tuesday 9th May 2017.

Regrettably it has taken much longer than we anticipated to progress matters at the Labour Court however bear in mind that the legislation we are taking the case under is very new and the matters we are addressing are complex in nature. Notwithstanding this reality don’t forget that the legislation in question would not exist and only came into force because it was won by you and your fellow members following the last one day dispute that formed part of our ongoing Decency for Dunnes Workers Campaign.

Your Union is as committed as ever to bring about an end to the unjust practice of insecure hour contracts, something we believe more than ever has no place in Ireland’s leading and most successful retailer (see Kantar trading figures below).  By standing together and speaking with one strong determined voice we can and will achieve this key objective of our Decency for Dunnes Workers Campaign.

Legislative Updates

As you are already aware, after Dunnes Stores members took industrial action in 2015, the Irish government implemented the Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2015. Your Union has followed this up with further lobbying in relation to ensuring workers have security over their hours at work. This has resulted in three separate pieces of legislation proceeding through the Oireachtas.

Firstly, Sinn Fein tabled the Banded Hours Contracts Bill in July 2016. This passed through the first stage in the Dail.  However, Fianna Fail made an amendment preventing the Bill from proceeding to the next stage of the legislative process for 12 months – this means it can proceed in a number of months if the government allows it to. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs is currently discussing this legislation and we have been invited to present to the Committee on behalf of Dunnes Stores members.

Secondly, in September 2016 the Labour Party brought forward the Uncertain Hours Bill and again it passed the first stage in the Dail.  This Bill would allow certainty of earnings and also prevent victimisation of workers for enforcing their rights through their trade union.  This Bill is awaiting the next stage. 

Finally, a third initiative is about to be presented to the Government which also attempts to address zero hour contracts, low hour contracts and related matters.   Your Union will continue to work to positively influence this and the other political initiatives outlined above as they progress.

Dunnes Stores holding top spot as Ireland’s largest grocer

According to the latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, for the first time ever Dunnes Stores has taken over the top spot as Ireland’s largest grocer for two consecutive months.  Dunnes now have a 22.9% share of the market. It is not unreasonable to expect that the business shares this considerable financial success with its workers at every available opportunity. 

Why the Tesco dispute is important to all retail workers

Tesco Ballyfermot picket (left) Mandate member from Dunnes Northside, Dave Campbell, showing support to the Tesco workers (right)

Thanks to all the Dunnes members who demonstrated their support and solidarity to their fellow Mandate members in Tesco during the recent strike 

You all are most likely aware of the recent strike and the ongoing dispute of your fellow Mandate members in Tesco.  Last year, Tesco Ireland’s management decided to attempt to fundamentally alter the terms and conditions of a small group of workers with over 21 years of loyal service to their company without meaningful engagement or agreement.  As a result of extreme pressure being brought to bear by management a large number of these workers decided to leave the business notwithstanding the fact that the Company by reference to a sound business case never justified the changes to their contracts of employment. 

For those members who decided to stand and fight Tesco’s actions eventually forced these workers and their colleagues in the stores affected to defend themselves and engage in industrial action in mid-February.  The strike was suspended after 12 days to allow for talks between Mandate and Tesco management at the Labour Court.  These discussions are ongoing.   

Be under no illusion the dispute in Tesco is one that has the potential to affect the entire retail sector.  You can be sure that all the other major retailers including Dunnes are waiting and watching with baited breath to see the outcome.  If Tesco get away with changing contracts of employment without agreement, no worker will be safe.

Your Union remains committed to find an agreed solution to the Tesco dispute and will always fight to ensure that no employer will ever be allowed change the established negotiated terms and conditions of employment of any of our members without their consent.   However, to do so successfully we must remain strong and united as a Union in all of our workplaces.   

Become more active in your Union

Mandate Shop Stewards, house committees and other active members play a central part in your Union in Dunnes.  Training and support is provided to anyone who takes up these important roles.  If you would be interested in taking up a more active role within the Union in your store please click the link below.
www.tinyurl.com/DunnesActive

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