17 July 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Anger brews over Starbucks sackings

PROTESTS were held last week in both Dublin and Belfast at coffee-shop chain Starbucks in a Global Day of Action in solidarity with union members sacked in Spain and the USA.
Campaigners leafleted Starbucks branches inside BT2 in Dublin’s Grafton Street but were removed by security from the designer shop.
Pickets were placed in Dawson Street and Dame Street in Dublin as well as Belfast.
Starbucks recently announced that it will close 500 of its stores across America with the loss of 12,000 jobs.
Starbucks have repeatedly been involved in high-profile, controversial labour disputes. The most recent of these occurred in March 2008 when the chain was ordered to pay $100 million to baristas in back-tips in California.


Council workers strike in North

WORKERS employed by local authorities in the Six Counties went on strike for two days this week in what SIPTU have described as the first of many stoppages if the employer offer of a 2.47 per cent pay rise is not improved upon.
Trade unions SIPTU, Unite, Unison and NIPSA are all seeking a 6 per cent pay increase for the workers to compensate recent increases in the cost of living.
Kevin McKinney of SIPTU said:
“Inflation is running at 4.3 per cent and the cost of essential items are rising much faster. Food costs have risen by more than 10 per cent in the past year and electricity is expected to rise by 43 per cent this year. The current offer by employers is neither reasonable nor realistic.”
The trade unions are holding a rally of support at 12 noon on Thursday, 17 July, at Transport House, High Street Belfast.

Newbridge jobs under threat

THE management of toothbrush manufacturers Procter & Gamble in Newbridge, County Kildare, announced in the Labour Court this week that any increases in wages would mean “serious consequences” for the future of the plant.
The US multinational employs 320 people in Newbridge.
Trade unions had brought the company to the Labour Court with a claim that Newbridge staff were underpaid by up to 25 per cent compared to staff in other Procter & Gamble plants in the 26 Counties. SIPTU stated that the staff in Newbridge also had an inferior sick-pay scheme. A spokesperson for the company maintained that conceding the pay claims would have consequences for the plant’s future but did not elaborate on what those consequences would be.
This will come as a worry to the Newbridge staff as Procter & Gamble already announced 280 redundancies in 2007 as they were transferring production to Poland and Mexico.

Hibernian staff ballot for industrial action

STAFF at insurance company Hibernian’s 27 branches in the South have balloted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in an effort to stop jobs cuts.
Hibernian announced it is to shed 580 out of the 2,200 jobs in the state and transfer them to Bangalore in India.
Gerry Shanahan, National Officer with Unite the Union, which represents 1,600 Hibernian staff, said of the ballot result:
“We now have a mandate from staff for non-cooperation with current management proposals to transfer the work and 580 related jobs to India.”
He added that the union is mandated, if required, to organise one-hour stoppages as current proposals by management are unacceptable.
“At a time of growing unemployment, we call on the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment to support our campaign to maximise the number of sustainable jobs and stop this unnecessary flight of jobs off this island.”


Strike notice served at Dublin Port Tunnel

WORKERS at the Dublin Port Tunnel have served strike notice on operators Transroute Tunnel Operations in a dispute over pay and terms of employment.
The two-day strike scheduled to begin on July 23 will close the tunnel.
SIPTU members who work at the tunnel claim that they earn 30 per cent less than the average wage for the industry. They previously rejected a Labour Court recommendation on the issue as it left a large number of workers worse off than now.
Union officials are engaging in talks with the management to try and resolve the dispute before the strike.

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