DUNNES STORES workers who joined pickets on Good Friday have been dismissed, had their hours cut and faced demotions in what Mandate Trade Union has described as a “despicable” move by the the retailer’s management.
In a statement, Mandate Trade Union says some staff who took part in the industrial action have been dismissed, while others have seen their hours reduced and their shifts and roles changed.
Dunnes’ staff are demanding fair pay, the right to trade union representation, a review of Dunnes’ excessive use of temporary contracts and the implementation of banded hour contracts which would give workers security of hours and earnings.
Dunnes Stores, or simply Dunnes as it is locally known, is a retail chain based in Dublin. The chain primarily sells food, clothes and household wares.
Workers went on strike at 109 Dunnes Stores across Ireland last Thursday following the company’s continued refusal to meet with the workers’ representatives.
Dunnes Stores worker Cathy McLoughlin, said to An Phoblacht Republican News (Sinn Féin’s monthly magazine):
“We all have bills to pay and children to feed but we don’t know what hours we’ll get from week to week. We can’t live like this anymore. All we’re really asking is to be treated the same as workers in other retail outlets like Tesco, Penneys and Supervalu who have secure hours and a right to be represented by their union. None of us want to go on strike because we really can’t afford it, but what other option have we got?”
Dunnes hit international headlines when in 1984 Mary Manning, a shop worker in the Henry Street, Dublin outlet, led a picket for almost 3 years against the sale by Dunnes of oranges sourced in the then apartheid South Africa.
One of Ireland most committed and well known singer, Christy Moore wrote a song about the issue.
The Irish Government eventually banned all imports from South Africa until the end of apartheid. The workers eventually met Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his conferral of the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 1990. A plaque, presented by South African President Thabo Mbeki, commemorating the action was unveiled in Dublin in June 2008, and a street has been named after Mary Manning in Johannesburg. The same Manning was invited to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013.