Business Irish

Friday 20 April 2018

Dunnes workers vow to continue campaign after 3pc pay increase

Mandate spokesman David Gibney
Mandate spokesman David Gibney
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Workers at Dunnes Stores have vowed to continue their campaign for better working conditions as they "cautiously welcomed" a 3pc pay increase from the company.

Staff at the grocery and department store were told yesterday during internal "communication meetings" that they had been granted a 3pc pay increase.

The pay claim was first lodged by trade union Mandate, which represents 6,000 Dunnes Stores workers around the country, last month - just days after thousands participated in one day of strike action.

Staff at the retailing giant have been locked in a lengthy, bitter dispute with the company over working hours and earnings, job security and representation rights with management.

This latest pay increase is the third rise that workers have enjoyed in three years. Their pay has now been increased by a total of 9pc.

However, Mandate spokesman David Gibney said their fight continues and said this latest reprieve was "useless without putting in place some sort of banded hour contract system or security of hours".

"Some staff could be on 30 hours up until this week and then they could be down to 15 hours next and give them nothing. It just doesn't do anything to address the key issue which is securing hours.

"The dispute continues, there is no change in that. There has been a number of concessions by the company since we began. Last week they issued a four-week roster; they had been doing week to week," Mr Gibney said.

"The company keeps missing the point. They are trying to throw a few crumbs to the workers, it is not fooling anybody, particularly the members because they know what it is like to live on these contracts."

The majority of Mandate's members in Dunnes Stores went on strike on Holy Thursday and pickets were held outside almost all of the retailer's 109 outlets around the country.

The decision to strike initially came after 67pc of Mandate's members balloted in favour of industrial action earlier in the year.

Gerry Light, the Mandate assistant general secretary, described the latest move as "important".

He believes it demonstrates that the campaign is "making progress". But, he said: "Workers also need security of hours."

Mr Light added: "What use is a pay increase if management can reduce your hours by two or three in a week, leaving you with less income?

"Any pay increase must be implemented with banded hour contracts to ensure workers have decent and secure earnings from week to week.

"At the moment, they don't know if they'll have the hours and the income to pay their electricity bill or feed their families next month. They can't get a mortgage or a credit union loan because of their low-hour contracts."

Dunnes Stores have not publicly responded to any of the claims made by staff. But, in a letter issued to them earlier this year, management said they would "not enter into direct discussions" with a trade union.

As part of Mandate's 'Decency for Dunnes Workers' campaign, a demonstration will be held in the capital on June 6, where thousands are expected to participate in a march to the retailer's city centre headquarters.

Irish Independent

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