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Dunnes staff to plan next move in 'long campaign'

Dunnes Stores workers are to meet today to discuss the next phase of industrial action against the retailing giant as part of their long-running dispute over contracts and working hours.

The Dunnes Stores National Disputes Committee, which is part of the trade union Mandate, will meet in Dublin today to decide their next move.

It has been indicated that the 6,000 Mandate members at Dunnes are likely to take to the picket line again soon as they believe they are facing a "long campaign".

Members of Mandate, which represents two-thirds of the workforce, participated in a one-day strike on Holy Thursday. This was due to a long-running dispute with the company over pay, contracts and representation rights.

John Douglas, General Secretary of Mandate, said staff have been subjected to an "orchestrated campaign" of retribution from senior management since the walk-out on April 2.

Mr Douglas said the union is compiling a dossier of 20 alleged cases and will meet with a legal team today to "see what options we have with those particular cases".

The union claimed that staff have been dismissed, have had their hours cut, their roles changed and are facing different shift patterns since the nationwide strike on April 2.

He believes this will only serve to make their members "more determined" to participate in further strike action.

Mr Douglas said there are a number of "long-serving members of staff, mostly women", who have also been moved from their current positions to roles with less secure hours.

"There are quite a number of those, women with 20-plus years of service who have, the day after the dispute, been moved out of these positions. That will have an impact today when we are discussing it at midday," he added.

Mandate said they are seeking "meaningful engagement" from the company, but so far, they have had no contact with them.

The industrial action is thought to have had a massive impact upon sales, which are traditionally high during Easter week. The strike action, which saw picket lines outside 98pc of the 109 branches of Dunnes Stores around the country, was also one of the biggest private sector strikes in recent years.

Dunnes Stores senior management wrote to staff in February saying they will "not enter into direct discussions with a trade union".

The letter also stated that "throughout very difficult times", the company has "maintained your jobs, increased your pay and continues to give solid and firm employment".

Irish Independent