DUNNES STORES ARE reported to have let some employees go, among other actions, in the wake of last Thursday’s long-anticipated countrywide industrial action.
The workers’ trade union, Mandate, has received reports that some of its members who took part on the picket on 2 April have been summarily dismissed.
Others have had their hours cut, their roles changed (in some cases after more than 20 years in the same back office role), and their shift patterns altered, all in the six days since the industrial action.
One of the reported dismissals took place less than 24 hours after the worker in question participated on the strike.
It seems the employee in question was made permanent some weeks ago but then let go last Friday, the day after the strike, and told there ‘simply wasn’t the business’ to warrant his continued employment.
Since that time the worker’s role has been made available to other employees who didn’t take part in the strike action.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary Gerry Light described Dunnes’ behaviour as ‘deplorable’ and something that should be ‘condemned by everybody’.
“For the life of me I can’t understand what they think they’re doing. All that can come of this is a hardening of both sides’ positions,” he said.
You’re talking about a strike that clearly had the support across a huge number of bodies in Irish society.
Logic would tell you to move towards a resolution, not engage in more provocative behaviour.
The only thing that will be damaged by behaviour like this is their own (Dunnes’) business.
Because this is an unprecedented situation and unprecedented behaviour on any employer’s behalf, certainly in my experience.
Light is of the opinion that Dunnes’ actions are entirely premeditated, and indeed had been planned for some time prior to the strike.
“The only resolution I can see to this, other than further escalation of our industrial action, is when the government’s collective bargaining legislation goes live in July,” he said.
That will give the workers more teeth and may make Dunnes sit up and take notice.
TheJournal.ie requested comment from Dunnes Stores but has received no response.
Last week’s strike came after many months of workers’ unrest. With at least three quarters of Dunnes’ staff on flexible short-term contracts, its workers were campaigning on a number of fronts:
- A demand for the implementation of banded-hour contracts
- Fair pay for workers
- A review of the use of temporary contracts of employment
- The right to union representation for Dunnes’ workers
The company’s approach throughout the saga has been consistently uncompromising.
In October last year Dunnes failed to show up for a Labour Court hearing with Mandate, while the company offered a 20% discount on all online purchases on the day of last week’s strike, a move that was almost universally condemned.