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Monday 19 February 2018

Hunger striker ordered to leave after visa runs out

Paul Melia and  Anne Marie Walsh

A WORKER who went on hunger strike yesterday in protest at his sacking last year has been given less than a week to leave the country.

Gardai told former Green Isle Foods worker John Recto he would have to depart before next Monday as his working visa has run out.

Originally from the Philippines, the father-of-three is the third worker to join the hunger strike after three workers at the frozen-food company lost their jobs last year.

Mr Recto is the first of the workers who were dismissed to join the fast that began over two weeks ago in protest at the company's actions.

His colleague and Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) shop steward, Jim Wyse (58), who started the hunger strike, has now not eaten for more than two weeks.

A second worker, former All-Ireland footballer John Guinan (48), joined the hunger strike more than a week ago. Neither Mr Wyse nor Mr Guinan were among the workers dismissed.

The workers said they were forced to take the drastic action after making little progress in resolving a dispute that has seen workers picket the pizza-making plant since September.

The company claimed the three workers were sacked after viewing "adult material" and breaching its internet policy.

The workers claimed that they were scapegoated and that the sackings took place because employees saw a file about proposed redundancies.


Following a Labour Court hearing, the court recommended that the workers be reinstated or compensated as the sackings were unjustified.

It set the compensation at €40,000, €60,000 and €80,000, depending on their years of service.

At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, the TEEU said Mr Recto and his family would not have to leave the country if the company had accepted the Labour Court's recommendation last December.

"It is a tragedy for John and his family, who have been struggling like the other families to survive for the past six months of the dispute," said the union's general secretary designate, Eamon Devoy.

Green Isle Foods said an independent mediation process it initiated weeks ago was the only way to resolve the dispute. It described the resort to hunger strikes by the three men as "excessive".

A spokesman for the company said the Labour Court was not the appropriate forum for the dispute as the issue did not involve large numbers of staff.

Green Isle Foods therefore did not consider itself to be bound by the recommendation of the court.

Irish Independent

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