Staff walk-out at Dunnes Stores set to hit sales ahead of Easter holidays
Dunnes Stores shops around the country are set to take a big financial hit today, as a planned strike by thousands of their employees is likely to impact on alcohol sales which are traditionally high on Holy Thursday.
Mandate, the trade union which represents 6,000 of the Dunnes Stores workforce, said that the majority of their members will take to the picket line outside 98pc of the retailing giant's 109 outlets around the country throughout the day.
The industrial action is the result of a long running dispute between management and staff at the company, in a row over pay, contracts and representation rights with management.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the workers his support yesterday during a discussion with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.
He said he supports the Dunnes Stores employees "in their right to clarity as to their working hours".
Siptu, Impact and Unite also called upon their members to support the retail staff who are set to strike today.
The decision to strike came last month after 67pc of the Mandate members balloted in favour of industrial action. And, Mandate spokesperson David Gibney said that just three branches will not have a picket outside their store today, as they do not represent any workers there. He explained that the pickets will be held outside stores "from opening to closing time".
Mr Gibney said that the dispute centres around the managements failure to participate in "meaningful engagement" over a number of key issues, including the implementation of "banded hour contracts", which would give staff guarantees in terms of hours and earnings, as well as a review of the "excessive use" of temporary contracts by the company.
"We wrote to Dunnes Stores on Monday so they should have received a letter this morning. We didn't expect any reaction, but we were just sort of throwing out the hand to see if they would sit down," he added.
"It has always just been about meaningful engagement. It has never been about guarantees on any of this stuff. We want to negotiate. We are on strike tomorrow, based on the Labour Court recommendation, who said the company should sit down with us and they said they won't."
Today's strike is likely to be one of the biggest private sector walk-outs in almost two decades. The company has not been hit by industrial action since 1996.
It is understood that there is a divide emerging amongst staff, as notices were posted on social media sites yesterday claiming that a number of stores will not be participating in the action.
In a letter issued to staff last month, Dunnes said they will "not enter into direct discussions" with a trade union.