Dublin’s city centre was brought to a standstill as thousands of Dunnes Store workers and supporters marched through the capital for better working conditions.
Organised by the Mandate trade union, which represents a number of employees at the Irish retailer, the protesters made their way from Merrion Square to a stage outside Dunnes Stores HQ on Georges Street.
The march, part of the ‘Decency for Dunnes Workers’ campaign, centred on low-hour contracts at Dunnes, which Mandate claims gives no security to its members in terms of income and working hours.
Some 5,000 people took part in the protest march, which followed on from a one-day strike by Dunnes workers represented by Mandate in April.
Speakers at the rally outside Dunnes Stores’ HQ today strongly criticised the company for failing to meet the union's demands on contracted employment and union recognition.
Pledging to continue the campaign to secure better contracts and conditions of employment for workers at Dunnes, General Secretary of Mandate John Douglas told the crowd that: "The Irish working class will not stand by while workers conditions are destroyed."
The trade union says almost three quarters of employees at Dunnes Stores are on part-time contracts.
"Thousands of workers in Dunnes do not know what hours they’ll have on a week-to-week basis and consequently their income can fluctuate from approximately €144 per week to €400 per week," said Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary.
“It is totally unacceptable that a local manager in Dunnes Stores can pick and choose which individual members of staff will be able to provide for their families at the end of a week.”
He added: “Today is about decency and respect in the workplace. Every worker in Ireland, whether a retail worker, restaurant worker, cleaner, teacher or nurse – whether in the private or public sector – they should all have secure hours and earn a living wage.”
Dunnes Stores employs more than 9,000 workers in 114 stores across Ireland.
Last month, it announced a 3pc pay rise for its staff, but, so far, has refused to negotiate directly with union representatives.
The company has been unavailable for comment throughout the dispute, which has now lasted several months.