Dunnes row over 15-hour contracts
Retail union claims supermarket chain is in breach of obligations to staff
Dunnes Stores is under fire for offering contracts of less than 15 hours a week to staff.
The main retail union has claimed the supermarket chain is in breach of a long-standing agreement it has with the union on minimum working hours.
Mandate said it struck a deal with the company in 1996 that meant it was obliged to offer 15 hours or more to staff but now has evidence that it is offering lower-hour contracts.
It said it also had concerns that there were a multitude of pay scales for staff, including pay rates that may be close to the minimum wage.
It said there was widespread use of fixed-term and temporary contracts at the chain.
"The time is long overdue for Dunnes Stores to sit down and fully honour its obligations under this agreement," said assistant general secretary Gerry Light.
"First and foremost, there is an absolute obligation in that agreement that the minimum contract is for 15 hours.
"The timing for talks is more appropriate than ever. We don't want our members' terms and conditions falling any more behind their main competitors in the retail sector."
He said there had been a dramatic increase in precarious work across the retail sector in the last few years.
"Dunnes Stores have been to the forefront in attacking retail employment standards," he added. "Many employers, particularly retail employers, are using the allocation of hours as a method of control and discipline over their workers and they do this by issuing low and zero-hour contracts.
"It is our intention that workers in Dunnes Stores will be afforded the right to 'banded-hour contracts' similar to their counterparts in Tesco, SuperValu and Penneys."
He said the union planned to lodge a "substantial" claim for a pay increase with the company shortly.
Revelations about the low-hour contracts come as the union launches a campaign for decent working conditions at Dunnes Stores today.
Mandate, which represents more than 4,000 workers at Dunnes Stores, said the campaign was being launched to tackle the "ongoing deterioration of employment standards for Dunnes workers nationally".
The campaign was launched at the union's Biennial Delegate Conference in Killarney.
Dunnes Stores did not respond when asked about the contracts.