Bottling plant workers stage protest

Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 01:00

Management at one of the biggest drinks distributors in the State have breached payment of wages legislation and enforced “highly unusual work practices”, according to Siptu.

Graham Macken, organiser with Siptu, was speaking as 10 former employees of M&J Gleeson Ltd, who say they were made redundant for joining a trade union, staged a protest outside the company’s Dublin distribution plant in Ballyfermot.

The company bottles and distributes a number of products, including Tipperary Natural Mineral Water, Finches soft drinks and Bavaria beer.

Mr Macken said the company had unilaterally reduced wages, “in breach of the Payment of Wages Act” and that workers were paid less for working on Sundays than for other days.

The latest accounts for the company show it made a profit of €4.7 million last year. “When the lads joined the union they were spoken to individually by the boss,” said Mr Macken.

He said when the majority of the work force had joined Siptu he attempted to engage management in negotiations but it refused to do so. Management also turned down an invitation from the Labour Relations Commission, Mr Macken said.

“When they embarked on a programme of redundancies they just happened to pick the most vocal union members,” said Mr Macken.

Pat Cooney, director of MJ Gleeson, said the job losses were due to the loss of a large contract with Dunne’s Stores. “I don’t even know who’s in a union here.”

Asked if the company recognised trade unions he said: “I’m not saying anything about that.”

Local People Before Profit councillor Bríd Smith said products manufactured and distributed by the company should be boycotted.

Joan Collins TD urged Siptu to take a strong line. “The spirit of William Martin Murphy is alive and well in this city. People are being thrown out of jobs for joining unions.”