The State's largest trade union Siptu is considering asking all its members to boycott the Greyhound waste company.
A dispute at the company was described yesterday as "one of the most important" in recent times and one that must be won, by the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, John Douglas.
The imposition of pay cuts of 35 per cent by Greyhound, if successful, would have implications for workers “in retail, in catering, across the board”.
“This dispute represents a defining moment for the trade union movement and the workers at Greyhound deserve the full support of the whole union movement,” he said. “If it is not resolved soon, I would be asking every trade union member in the country to consider very seriously who they have a contract with to collect their waste.”
The 70 workers at Greyhound, all members of Siptu, have been in dispute with the company since June 17th. They say they were told that day that if they did not sign a document accepting wage cuts, they could not come to work.
At the end of May, the Labour Court had recommended both parties work together to identify "labour productivity savings" and "adjustments to the wage bill". Negotiations followed without success.
Siptu has placed pickets on the two Greyhound premises in Clondalkin. It says the wage cuts would see truck drivers’ wages fall from about €650 a week to €400, and operatives’ wages – bin collectors – from about €400 to €260 a week.
"No one, even someone on €200,000 a year, can absorb a 35 per cent pay cut," said truck driver James Simpson. "We were just told to sign up to the pay cuts or get out."
Among 23 items on the documents the workers were asked to sign are a plan to cut the pay of new entrants to €12 an hour for a driver and €9 an hour for an operative; to end all overtime payment; to pay sick pay “at the discretion of management” and to only issue gloves to operatives when they return a worn-out pair.
The workers are getting strike pay of €200 a week.
Bin collections continue with the use of agency workers, many of whom, say Siptu, are from within the immigrant community, the majority from eastern Europe.
A Greyhound spokesman said it wanted staff to return to work under protest pending a binding agreement from the Labour Court.