Dunnes talks adjourn after 4 hour session


TALKS to try to end the four day Dunnes Stores strike were adjourned last night. Union sources indicated that negotiators had not yet got down to discussing substantive issues.

The talks between Dunnes management and the trade union Mandate are expected to resume this afternoon. The union source said it was still early days in the strike and that many issues, including trust in the company's management, still had to be copper fastened.

Dunnes management was a little more upbeat after the four hour session of talks adjourned soon after 10.20 p.m. Sources close to management said the dispute was edging slowly towards a settlement.

"It certainly isn't over yet, but the talks have been very businesslike and we are focusing on a settlement," the source said.

It is now accepted the strike is unlikely to end until the middle of next week at the earliest.

Earlier in the day, Fianna Fail expressed concern that a lengthy strike could cost the taxpayer £350,000 a week.

Mr Tom Kitt, Fianna Fail spokesman on labour affairs, said last year's Dunnes strike cost the taxpayer £1 million in social welfare payments. He claimed the Government was not giving any leadership in the dispute. It had not taken any initiatives and was allowing the dispute to drift aimlessly.

Before going into their meeting union officials met to consider their response to a management document. Mr Kevin Duffy, assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions, a very experienced negotiator, has joined the unions to assist them.

The main issues in the dispute, payment of a 3 per cent increase and the creation of new full time jobs, have remained unresolved since the Labour Court recommendations that resulted from last summer's strike. Those recommendations were accepted by both sides.

The dispute is said to be costing Dunnes Stores £2 million a day in turnover. Suppliers and traders hit by the strike are said to be losing £1 million a day.