Dunnes workers in Limerick complain of explosive working conditions

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by Alan Jacques

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Dunnes Stores plastic bags will not feature in the Rubberbandits' act if discrimination claims are true
Dunnes Stores plastic bags will not feature in the Rubberbandits’ act if discrimination claims are true

DUNNES Stores workers in Limerick claim that there is a “very bad atmosphere” in the workplace after staff took part in industrial action two weeks ago over working conditions.

“Some of our hours have plummeted since the strike. We got the silent treatment the following day from management and there is a very bad atmosphere. It is like we are waiting for a massive explosion from them. It’s difficult to work here now”, one employee told the Limerick Post.

Mandate trade union has reported discriminatory action against the workers who took part in industrial action and has condemned any moves to dismiss workers, cut their hours, change their roles or shift patterns as a result of the one day strike.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan described these actions as alarming and disturbing. However he said that he is not aware of any discriminatory action against staff who took part in the industrial action at the four Limerick stores.

“Mandate has highlighted how many of these workers have been subject to ‘vindictive’ and ‘premeditated’ treatment by their employer. In some cases staff were dismissed from their roles, with others receiving cuts and changes to work patterns”, he added

The City North representative described the alleged behaviour of Dunnes management as “utterly reprehensible”, before pointing out that successive governments have also played a role in compounding the unacceptable working conditions facing the retailer’s staff.

“The failure of previous governments to fully implement the EU 1997 part time workers directive and the failure to introduce legislation on collective bargaining are prime examples of how successive Irish governments have failed to protect worker’s rights,” he said.

Mandate assistant general secretary, Gerry Light, insists that all Dunnes workers want is for their company to meaningfully engage with them through their union, with the objective of creating decent working conditions.

“Now, their employer is blatantly targeting people with the hope of intimidating their own loyal staff and turning them away from any future trade union activities. This behaviour by management in Dunnes Stores is deplorable and despicable and must be condemned by everybody,” he said.

Mr Light went on to say that the actions of Dunnes management clearly illustrates the disproportionate level of control and power that managers have over their workers and their incomes.

Meanwhile, Limerick comedy rappers the Rubberbandits showed solidarity by tweeting, “If there’s any truth in the accusations that Dunnes Stores fired workers who went on strike, then we will definitely never wear Dunnes bags.”