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30 years on: A Dunnes Stores worker 'changed the face of the anti-apartheid movement'

The eleven workers who went on strike attended the funeral of Nelson Mandela last year.

THE STORY OF the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike in 1984 will be explored in a documentary tonight. 

Mary Manning was a 21-year-old worker at the supermarket in Henry Street, Dublin when she refused to register the sale of an Outspan grapefruit and told her manager that she wouldn’t sell any other South African fruit either.

She and ten other workers who supported her action were suspended from work with immediate effect and a strike ensued.

They assumed it would be a matter of days before the issue would be resolved and they would return to work – but the lockout lasted two years and nine months.

It only ended when the Irish government agreed to implement a complete ban of the import of South African goods until the apartheid regime was overthrown.

The TG4 documentary, Torthaí na Daoirse, shows how the young workers took on the might of their employers and much of the Irish establishment.

Here’s a clip of what’s in store:

TG4 / YouTube

TG4 says, “This documentary exposes the bitter rivalry that escalated between the parties concerned as the eyes of the world shone on the strikers in their fight against apartheid.

European trade was the lifeblood of apartheid in South Africa, and on that fateful day in July 1984 the naive action taken by one young Irish shop cashier was about to change the face of the anti-apartheid movement around the world.

It will be shown on TG4 at 9:30 tonight.

Read: This day 30 years ago the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike began>

Read: Dunnes Stores strikers attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral>

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