29 June 2000 Edition

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Aldi strikers' morale high

Striking MANDATE members from the Aldi store on Parnell Street, Dublin, were on hand to picket the company's new Galway outlet when it opened on Thursday, 22 June. The uhion has extended the picket to Aldi's other stores in Cork and Letterkenny over the weekend and plans to picket Aldi's Thurles store when it eventually opens.

Aldi had fired one Galway worker before the store even opened because she had failed to memorise 250 prices in a sufficient space of time. Aldi stores do not use bar code scanners as used by most supermarkets, so employees are expected to memorise hundreds of prices.

Aldi has refused to negotiate with the workers' trade union, MANDATE or seek a resolution of the Dublin dispute through the Labour Relations Commission. They say that they have internal grievance procedures in place and they claim that the dispute ``is confined to only three former staff members from the Dublin store who decided to break their contract of employment''. Two other members of staff, they say, ``failed their probationary period and were not made permanent''.

MANDATE officials point out that the decision to fire the two workers on probation was made after they joined the union. They say their members are on strike following the refusal of Aldi management to recognise the union.

The trade union says that Aldi negotiates with unions in Germany and in Denmark but refuses to do so in Ireland.

Workers outside the store have been distributing leaflets in Chinese, Romanian, French and African languages - aimed at the large number of non-nationals who shop at the store.

Business at the store has been clearly affected by the strike, with only two or three tills operational at times. MANDATE spokesperson, Willie Hamilton told An Phoblacht that the union is adopting a long-term approach to the dispute. ``The workers' morale is incredibly high,'' he said. ``They have been buoyed by support that they have received from the public, from trade unionists and from the broad level of political support.''

An Aldi spokesperson would only say that all their stores were ``fully operational'' when asked about the effect of the dispute on the company's business.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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