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.”
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
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
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.”