3 September 2009 Edition

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Dublin dockers: Talks open as bosses seek High Court protection for scabs

PROTEST: Dublin dockers Liffey blockade

PROTEST: Dublin dockers Liffey blockade

BY BRENDAN KERR

TALKS have been held at the Labour Relations Commission between SIPTU representatives of more than 30 striking striking dockers at Dublin Port and management at Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL) this week.
Although limited progress was made at Monday’s seven-hour session of talks, it was enough to make SIPTU Regional Secretary Christy McQuillan hopeful of a resumption of negotiations by Thursday (as An Phoblacht goes to press) or no later than next Monday.
Now in its ninth week, the dispute flared when new management instituted a plan involving jobs cuts and significant changes in work conditions and employment terms, leading to fears of casualisation.
Seven hours of talks at the LRC on Monday ended with reporting that a very small amount of progress was made.
A spokesperson for the British-owned MTL, a subsidiary of Peel Ports, also accepted that the talks appeared to have made “some progress”.

COURT INJUNCTION
Meanwhile, MTL was simultaneously using its legal muscle and money on Monday to secure a Dublin High Court injunction to protect strike-breaking scabs doing dockers’ work.
An interim injunction was granted by the High Court against a number of named union officials and workers as well as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and SIPTU to prevent what the courts view as harassment of scabs.
Protesters had travelled to Athy, County Kildare, where some of the scabs live, and put up posters and distributed fliers highlighting the dispute and naming and shaming scabs. MTL described the protesters’ action as an unlawful escalation and intimidation by calling strike-breakers “scabs”.
The judge gave the company permission to bring proceedings aimed at restraining the defendants from referring to any person at the firm who continued to work as being a “scab” or from interfering with their constitutional rights to work.
The company also wants a court order to stop any naming shaming of scabs.
The interim injunction against ICTU and SIPTU and ten named individuals, includes: ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting; SIPTU officials Oliver McDonagh and Christy McQuillan and SIPTU General Secretary Joe O’Flynn; Ken Fleming, an agent of the International Transport Workers’ Federation; and five current and former employees of MTL.
The interim injunction will be heard again this Thursday.

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