The threat of a strike by Dunnes Stores staff in Galway remains after workers balloted for industrial action. Mandate Trade Union shop stewards in Dunnes voted overwhelmingly in favour of commencing a process of balloting for industrial action at the company. The balloting process will begin in the coming weeks.
The action is due to a number of issues including zero-hour contracts. These contracts, which many Dunnes employees work under, force staff to be always available for work without a guarantee of a fixed number of hours.
Dunnes employs more than 10,000 workers in 112 stores across the Republic of Ireland. The company operates seven shops in Galway with separate food and clothing outlets in Eyre Square, and stores in Edward Square, Terryland, Briarhill, Westside, and Knocknacarra.
Mandate, which represents more than 4,000 workers in Dunnes Stores, says the company has refused to implement the terms of a Labour Court recommendation issued in November. The recommendation stated that Dunnes had an obligation to sit down with the union to discuss all the issues in dispute including; the implementation of banded hour contracts which would give workers security of hours and earnings, a review of Dunnes’ excessive use of temporary contracts of employment, and fair pay for all workers in Dunnes Stores.
An un-named shop steward has spoken out against the company and says staff are extremely disappointed and frustrated that Dunnes has continued to ignore workers’ requests. “We’re determined to make real and lasting change in the company and feel we’ve been left with no other option but to ballot for industrial action. All we’re really asking for is respect and the implementation of standard conditions of employment that are already afforded to workers in Dunnes’ major competitors like Tesco and Penney’s.”
Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light says the combination of low pay and flexible hours means that many Dunnes workers cannot afford to provide a basic standard of living for themselves and their dependents. “Many of our members cannot access mortgages or loans because of insecurity of hours. Dunnes Stores workers don’t feel respected by their employer. When the balloting process commences, it’s important that all Mandate members attend their local meetings and have their input.’’