25 February 2010 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Attacks on conditions not just about public sector, ICTU chief tells Galway rally

‘Sands of time are running out fast’

IF WORKERS in the 26 Counties don’t stand up to government attacks on wages and conditions now then they will suffer further cuts in months and years to come, Irish Congress of Trade Unions President Jack O’Connor said at a rally of 700 people in Galway on Tuesday night.
And he warned people not to be under the illusion that this is only about the public sector.
“That is to fundamentally misunderstand it. It is actually an attack on workers, all workers, an attempt to achieve the effects of a currency devaluation by cutting pay which means that, unlike devaluation, only working people carry the entire burden of the adjustment.”
He said the trade union movement must lay out a determined programme of action running right into the summer, “carefully and incrementally escalating and ramping it up in such a way as to minimise the implications for ordinary citizens of the country” to maximise the prospect of a negotiated outcome.
For the Government, he said, “it is far easier to target less than one-fifth of the workforce than it is to confront the powerful and wealthy who dictate the agenda in our society”.
But it is not yet too late to avoid a major confrontation, the trade union leader said.
“And if it were done it would add enormously to the creation of stability and confidence so urgently required in our economy, and in our country.
“But you must all prepare to take resolute action in an intelligent and carefully planned way in the not-too-distant future to bring this dispute to a fair conclusion because the sands of time are running and they are running out fast.”

•  The full text of Jack O’Connor’s speech can be read at http://www.siptu.ie/PressRoom/ NewsReleases/2010/Name,11443,en.html

 

All-Ireland footballer joins hunger strike at Green Isle Foods

ALL-IRELAND footballer John Guinan joined Green Isle Foods work colleague and union shop steward Jim Wyse on hunger strike outside the company’s plant in Naas, County Kildare, on Wednesday of this week.
Although the company has finally agreed to talks with the strikers’ union, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, a solidarity rally on Saturday is scheduled to go ahead as we go to press.
Green Isle workers have been on strike for six months because the company refused to accept Labour Court recommendations for the settlement of the dispute over the dismissal of union members last July.
The TEEU says a number of employees were sacked after a confidential file containing restructuring proposals was sent in error to a staff member and then that information was shared with other staff.
The company claims the three workers were dismissed following an investigation by the company into “serious breaches” of its IT and e-mail policy relating to pornography and copyright material.
Jim Wyse began the hunger strike last week. John Guinan was a member of the Offaly team that won the All-Ireland in 1982 and prevented Kerry winning five All-Irelands in a row. He has worked at Green Isle Foods as a maintenance engineer for 13 years.
The TEEU had pledged that if the company continued to refuse to accept the recommendation or talk to the union, then one new hunger striker would join the protest every Wednesday.
Green Isle Foods, a division of the British multinational, Northern Foods, has now agreed to enter talks with the union for the first time since the dispute began six months ago but no acceptable proposals have emerged so far.
The firm previously rejected all offers by the union to meet and it rejected every attempt to mediate or resolve the dispute by the Labour Relations Commission, National Implementation Body and Labour Court.
The Labour Court found last December that the three workers at the centre of the dispute had been unfairly dismissed on 10 July 2009. When the company failed to respond to its finding, the court recommended that the men either be reinstated with no loss of pay or they receive €160,000 in compensation for the loss of their jobs. It also recommended the facilitation of an immediate return to work by the other employees on strike with no victimisation on either side.
The TEEU said it welcomes the company’s agreement to engage in talks but Jim Wyse and his colleagues will continue with the hunger strike protest until an acceptable settlement can be reached.

• See the TEEU website for updates: ALL-IRELAND footballer John Guinan joined Green Isle Foods work colleague and union shop steward Jim Wyse on hunger strike outside the company’s plant in Naas, County Kildare, on Wednesday of this week.
Although the company has finally agreed to talks with the strikers’ union, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, a solidarity rally on Saturday is scheduled to go ahead as we go to press.
Green Isle workers have been on strike for six months because the company refused to accept Labour Court recommendations for the settlement of the dispute over the dismissal of union members last July.
The TEEU says a number of employees were sacked after a confidential file containing restructuring proposals was sent in error to a staff member and then that information was shared with other staff.
The company claims the three workers were dismissed following an investigation by the company into “serious breaches” of its IT and e-mail policy relating to pornography and copyright material.
Jim Wyse began the hunger strike last week. John Guinan was a member of the Offaly team that won the All-Ireland in 1982 and prevented Kerry winning five All-Irelands in a row. He has worked at Green Isle Foods as a maintenance engineer for 13 years.
The TEEU had pledged that if the company continued to refuse to accept the recommendation or talk to the union, then one new hunger striker would join the protest every Wednesday.
Green Isle Foods, a division of the British multinational, Northern Foods, has now agreed to enter talks with the union for the first time since the dispute began six months ago but no acceptable proposals have emerged so far.
The firm previously rejected all offers by the union to meet and it rejected every attempt to mediate or resolve the dispute by the Labour Relations Commission, National Implementation Body and Labour Court.
The Labour Court found last December that the three workers at the centre of the dispute had been unfairly dismissed on 10 July 2009. When the company failed to respond to its finding, the court recommended that the men either be reinstated with no loss of pay or they receive €160,000 in compensation for the loss of their jobs. It also recommended the facilitation of an immediate return to work by the other employees on strike with no victimisation on either side.
The TEEU said it welcomes the company’s agreement to engage in talks but Jim Wyse and his colleagues will continue with the hunger strike protest until an acceptable settlement can be reached.

• See the TEEU website for updates: http://www.teeu.ie/

Justice for Green Isle workers protest

Saturday 27 February at 12 noon

Meet at the Cinema Car Park in Naas

 

MTL strike settlement for Dublin dockers

AS An Phoblacht went to press on Wednesday of last week, the renewal of strike notice by Dublin dockers in dispute with Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL) cargo handlers forced the firm to reopen talks with the SIPTU trade union and the dispute was resolved by negotiation, the parties involved announced last Thursday, 18 February.
Eleven workers will retain their jobs at MTL and will return on a staggered basis between now and 26 May.
The long-running and acrimonious dispute ended when SIPTU officials signed a negotiated agreement, the terms of which had been voted for by workers at the port.
The agreement ensures that workers in the company will have union representation and will have access to all the industrial relations procedures of the state. Strikers have also secured a ‘no recriminations’ clause.

DOCKLANDS COMMUNITIES
SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Christy McQuillan said:
“Our members have been through a very difficult experience regarding their welfare and that of their families over a protracted period. The important thing is that hands-on jobs at Dublin Port have been protected and the company has an opportunity to grow and develop the business which will hopefully lead to the creation of further jobs.”
The union rep said “great credit” was due to the enormous contribution to the resolution of the dispute by the local Docklands communities on both sides of the Liffey, in East Wall and Ringsend and trade unionists who showed solidarity across the globe, including the International Transport Workers’ Federation which has brokered the agreement.

SUPPORT GROUP
The grassroots, community-based strikers’ support group said that while it welcomes the agreement “there is no air of celebration”.
A statement on the group’s website (http://www.mtldockers.com/) says:
“A number of workers did not get their jobs back and it is very hard for us to see these dedicated and committed strikers remain in this situation. Some  workers reluctantly accepted redundancy to help ensure others kept their jobs and this too should be noted.”
It paid tribute to the people who live and work in Docklands:
“The support shown for these workers was tremendous. The willingness of supporters to turn up at numerous events, often at very short notice, has to be commended. This was a well-fought campaign and everyone who worked as part of the support group has to be congratulated for the role they played.”


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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