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A St Pat's lecturer brought her students to Tesco today to teach them about the strike

Workers at Tesco Drumcondra have been striking since Friday.

IMG_20170221_111603 St Pat's students speak to Tesco workers in Drumcondra today. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

A DCU LECTURER from St Patrick’s Campus in Drumcondra brought her students to the local Tesco today so that workers could inform them about the nature of the strike action.

This comes as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) reaffirmed its support for the industrial action after workers at Tesco Drumcondra stated that local students had been crossing the picket line and entering the store.

Susan Pike, lecturer of Geography Education at DCU’s St Pat’s Campus, took her class down to Tesco earlier this morning so that they could speak to the workers involved in the picket.

“We’re always getting the students to try to think big, to think critically about issues,” she said.

So why not come over here where a local issue is meeting a global issue.

Pike said that an email had been sent to staff of the college advising them to encourage students to support the strike, after the issue was raised by Tesco workers of students passing the picket line.

IMG_20170221_111550 A worker speaks to students outside Tesco Drumcondra. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

“They might have their own opinions about it but one of the things is to question the power of big companies like Tesco and the impact that can have on people who are out on strike,” she said.

I didn’t tell them what to think before we came down here as that wouldn’t involve them think critically.

She also defended students who did pass the picket, saying that Tesco was the only supermarket in the local vicinity and that students may not have the time to shop elsewhere.

“The trouble is for the over 3,000 students in Pat’s is that there is no other supermarket in the vicinity,” she said.

So students have been passing but some of them have no choice.

IMG_20170221_112014 Striking workers outside Tesco this morning. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Calls for support 

Tesco Drumcondra worker Jackie Kearns told TheJournal.ie that students from St Pat’s campus had regularly passed the picket since action began at the store last Friday.

“A lot of these students will be teachers in the years to come and they’d like our support,” she said.

It’s the principle here… you just don’t pass the picket.

Labour senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin was also present outside Tesco today, expressing his support for the industrial action.

“Any of us at any stage of our lives could be in a strike and it’s important to have a level of solidarity with those in the dispute,” he said.

Ó Ríordáin said that the Labour Party supported the strike action and he called on students and the local community to stand behind the workers.

IMG_20170221_111017 Labour senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (far left) with fellow Labour councillors and Tesco workers. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

The USI also expressed its solidarity with the Tesco workers.

USI president Annie Hoey told TheJournal.ie that the union was encouraging all students to boycott Tesco for the duration of the industrial action.

“We fully support the strike action,” said Hoey.

“DCU Students’ Union (of which St Pat’s are members) were out on the picket line with the Tesco workers this afternoon,” she said.

We have called on all of our members not to cross the picket line.

In response to reports that students had been crossing the picket, Hoey said that the USI had been sending information about the action out on social media and through the various Students’ Unions across the country.

“They have the full support of the USI,” she said.

Industrial action is currently ongoing in 16 Tesco stores across the county, in a dispute over the proposed changes to contracts of long-term Tesco workers.

About 250 workers in total – who have been working for the company since before 1996 – will be affected by these changes.

A further 10 stores were balloted to join the action last night, with four voting in favour of striking and six voting against. This means that 20 stores will be striking by next Monday.

All stores have remained open despite the industrial action. Tesco claimed yesterday that 45,000 people shopped in stores picketed by strikers over the weekend.

ao9z6833-tesco-strike_90502795 Workers striking outside the Tesco store on Baggot Street in Dublin. Source: RollingNews.ie

Tesco has repeatedly labelled the work stoppage unjustified and irresponsible, calling on the Mandate trade union to accept Labour Court recommendations on the proposed contract changes.

Mandate, for its part, has criticised Tesco for not properly engaging with the union, claiming that the contact changes will negatively impact workers’ pay and conditions. Tesco has disputed this.

Read: ‘We’ll be here as long as it takes’: Striking Tesco workers say they’re in it for the long haul

Read: Four Tesco stores vote to join strike, six vote against

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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