2 March 2006 Edition

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Dunnes back down as Delaney reinstated

BY Justin Moran

Dunnes Stores has 137 stores in Ireland, with another 15 in England, Scotland and Spain. Its annual profits are measured in hundreds of millions of euros. It employs approximately 20,000 people. Last week it backed down in the face of a 22-year-old Dublin woman prepared to stand by her principles in the face of management intimidation.

For three months Joanne Delaney fought her unfair dismissal for refusing to remove her union badge. A Mandate Shop Steward, Delaney had been successfully organising the union in the Ashleaf store in Crumlin. This, many observers believe, was the real reason behind the management action.

Pickets, demonstrations and petitions had been taking place at Dunnes' outlets throughout the country and pressure was mounting on the company to back down. An email campaign organised by labourstart.org resulted in almost 6,000 messages of support flooding Dunnes' headquarters.

Delaney was a guest at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis where she was enthusiastically welcomed. Sinn Féin declared that last Saturday would be a mobilisation day and announced details of over a dozen stores the party intended picketing with more to come the week after. Realising that this campaign was not going to go away, and if anything had hardly begun, Dunnes sued for peace the day before the mobilisations were due to take place they offered Joanne Delaney her job back.

Following the announcement of her reinstatement Joanne Delaney said: "It was the support and solidarity of fellow trade unionists and of political parties that organised protests throughout the country, and shoppers who use the Ashleaf outlet, who by wearing a Mandate sticker and complaining to management, have done so much to bring about this victory."

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was delighted at the outcome. "Joanne's reinstatement is long overdue. She should not have been sacked in the first place. The management of Dunnes Stores clearly underestimated the strength of public opinion on this issue.

"Public disquiet with the anti-union stance of Dunnes and people's support for Joanne Delaney played a pivotal role in bringing this dispute to a successful conclusion. I hope that other unscrupulous employers will recognise that the undermining of workers' rights will not go unchallenged."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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