Dunnes ‘targeting’ workers who went on strike, union alleges

Mandate says it has reports of management calling in workers who were on pickets

According to the union, Mandate, the actions of management illustrated the “disproportionate level of control and power Dunnes management exert over their workers and their incomes”.

According to the union, Mandate, the actions of management illustrated the “disproportionate level of control and power Dunnes management exert over their workers and their incomes”.

 

Management at Dunnes Stores have moved to “target” workers who participated in last week’s strike, with cuts to hours, changes in shift patterns and dismissals, the trade union Mandate alleges.

The union says it has received reports “from all over the country” of management calling in workers who were on pickets last Thursday and telling them their hours have been reduced, that they are being moved from long-held positions to other places – such as the shop-floor or to tills – or that they are having their shift patterns changes.

Gerry Light, Mandate assistant general secretary , said a number of managers had called the union anonymously, saying they had been told by more senior managers to compile lists of anyone who had been on pickets.

“This is clearly malicious, vindictive and pre-meditated intimidation of union members by Dunnes Stores management,” he said.

He said it was now “urgent” that the Government legislate to protect union members from victimisation, to enact collective bargaining legislation and to transpose the EU directive on part-time work to protect against the worst impacts of low-hour contracts.

More than 5,000 Dunnes workers staged a one-day stoppage on Holy Thursday, placing pickets on over 100 branches of the multi-national company, making it the biggest private sector strike in recent years.

The dispute centres on the company’s use of low-hour contracts, where a majority of its workers are guaranteed between 15 hours and 37-and-a-half hours a week, but with no certainty week-to-week of what hours they will work. Mandate says the contracts are relegating thousands of its workers to under-employment and an inability to plan such issues as childcare, or to secure loans.

The company has not engaged with the union on the issue.

The strike was a “last resort” said Mr Light.“All they (Dunnes strikers) want is for the company to meaningfully engage with them through their union with the objective of creating decent working conditions.

“Now their employer is blatantly targeting people with the hope of intimidating their own loyal staff and turning them away from future trade union activities.

One Dunnes Stores worker told The Irish Times that she “was just brought into the manager’s office on Friday and told I was being moved to the tills”.

“I said to him, ‘you know I’m not trained on the tills’. And he said I’d be trained. So on Saturday I spent eight hours standing behind someone on the tills watching. I felt like I was in detention.”

She says she fears a plan to eventually dismiss her, as discrepancies in a till at the end of the day can lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Another alleged case was that of a worker in Co Louth who was dismissed within 24 hours of the strike.

Among the options open to the union, said a spokesman, were legal action and an escalation of the dispute. The actions of management illustrated the “disproportionate level of control and power Dunnes management exert over their workers and their incomes”.

He said the actions strengthened the resolve of Dunnes workers who were “more determined than ever to achieve their objectives of decent work”.

Dunnes Stores did not provide a response to these allegations this evening.