Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Workers in Struggle

Bord na Móna workers take strike action
Over 1,200 Bord na Móna engaged in a one-day strike on Tuesday [June 5], and set up pickets at sites in Kildare, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath.
Workers had been promised a 6 percent wage increase in 2009, which has yet to be achieved. In April, employers offered a 1.7 percent pay increase and a one-off payment €1,000 in place of retrospective pay, but this offer was rejected by workers.
The workers are represented by Siptu, TEEU and Unite. The unions will meet again next week to discuss further strike action.

Union to ballot water staff for strike
Siptu is to ballot around 2,500 local authority staff around the Twenty-Six Counties over plans to reform the water service.
The Department of the Environment has decided to transfer assets and duties of its members to Bord Gáis and other contractors as part of the establishment of Irish Water.
Siptu organiser Michael Wall said: “Contrary to all assurances given previously, it now seems that the Department is proceeding to put in place a transfer of assets and work, which are our members’ jobs, to an outside agency and private contractors.
“No discussions have taken place, no forum for consultation has been established and no assurances have been given to staff who have given long and professional service to the Irish public over generations.”

Strike action threatened at Bus Éireann
The National Bus and Rail Union has threatened to ballot for strike action following the unveiling of a cost-cutting plan by management at Bus Éireann.
The company is looking to make €9 million in payroll savings, by increasing employees’ working hours and reducing holiday and sick leave entitlements. The company also wants workers to accept new outsourcing arrangements as well as redeployment without compensation.
Management says it is not seeking redundancies or cuts in basic pay, but that this is dependent on workers accepting the agreement and its attack on their terms and conditions of work. But NBRU head Michael Fathery said, “Bus Éireann is in dreamland. It's not going to happen. It is part and parcel of pay and would mean a 17pc cut in wages.”
A similar proposal is also being drawn up at Dublin Bus.

Vita Cortex workers end plant occupation
Workers at Vita Cortex in Cork have ended their five-month occupation of the plant after successfully achieving their demands.
The workers began their action on December 16 when their former employers failed to provide the redundancy pay that had been agreed at the Labour Relations Court.
The 161-day sit-in ended on May 24 as the workers received news that the sums owed to them had finally begun being paid into their bank accounts.
Jim Power, who worked at Vita Cortex for 42 years, said, “We are elated. We’ve been waiting over five months for this moment to come and now it’s upon us," he said. "We hope that we have set a precedent here for other workers and when this kind of thing happens again, if they do what we did, they will achieve something so hopefully we have been some kind of inspiration.”

‘Surplus to requirements’ – 212 million workers unemployed worldwide
The most recent report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reveals the extent to which the current crisis of capitalism has affected the livelihoods of millions of people across the world. Its ‘World of Work Report 2012’ shows that global levels of unemployment are set to reach 212 million by the end of this year, up 6 million from the 2011 figure.

Vita Cortex Workers Keep Her Lit
Since December 16th last, the resilient workers of Vita Cortex have braved the undesirable conditions of having to squat in the cold, damp and poorly ventilated warehouse of their former employers in order to demand their just rights from millionaire boss Jack Ronan, and to expose his betrayal of the workers to the public.

Primark workers vote for strike action
Workers in the eight Primark stores in the Six Counties have voted overwhelmingly for strike action against attempts by management to impose a pay freeze for the second year in a row.
Around 750 people are employed in Primark stores in the statelet, and 85% of the workforce is unionised in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw).
Usdaw Area Organiser Nicola Scarborough said: “Most of our members at Primark earn just £6.84 an hour and they are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. With prices continuing to rise and government cuts to tax credits and other benefits beginning to bite, most people simply can’t afford to accept what is effectively a pay cut for the second year running.
“There is no question of Primark being unable to afford a rise. Sales at the company continue to increase by double digits and in the past two years Primark has made profits of £644 million. It’s time for Primark to recognise the exceptional contribution its staff are making to this success.”

Vita Cortex Sit-In Enters Sixth Week
Thirty-two workers have begun their sixth week occupying the Vita Cortex manufacturing plant on Kinsale Road in Cork to obtain redundancy pay owed to them.
Some of the assets belonging to company owner Jack Ronan had been seized by NAMA. Ronan was expected to work with NAMA to identify funds that could be released to pay the redundancy package, but Ronan reneged on this, leading to the adjournment of talks at the LRC over the weekend without resolution.
SIPTU Organiser Anne Egar accusd Ronan of trying to use the Vita Cortex workers as “pawns in a cynical attempt to pressurise NAMA into resolving his financial issues with them.
“We were led to believe the agreed redundancy payments would be forthcoming through the LRC process. Now it seems the owner is using that process to advance his own financial interests.”

26,000 Job Losses Predicted for Six Counties
26,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the public sector by 2017, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. They warn that the Six Counties will be hit harder than any region in Britain as a result of the British government’s planned cull of the public sector.
The statement, released last Tuesday [January 17], drew immediate response from Six-County finance minister Sammy Wilson, who fumed: “If they haven't anything positive to say, then they should shut up.”
ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting responded: “The trade unions are not interested in a pointless rhetorical bun-fight with Sammy Wilson. We are interested in the NI Executive formulating policies which are humane and evidence-based.
“It is worrying that the Finance Minister claims that ‘we actually have more jobs in the public sector than last year’... In the past year we have lost 4,000 public sector jobs in Northern Ireland, despite the wishful thinking of the Minister, and if he has a problem with that evidence, he should take it up with his own department.
“One of the great achievements of the NI Civil Service is the quality and professionalism of their research, and their willingness to make public the facts of our society and economy, despite attempts to spin the evidence in press releases and briefings by Ministers and their Special Advisors.”

Minihan Commends La Senza Workers
éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan has commended workers at the La Senza store in Liffey Valley for staging a sit-in protest in support of their demand for wages and overtime owed to them.

Building for November 30
Twenty trade unions representing around 175,000 public sector workers in the Six Counties have voted to strike next Wednesday, November 30. They will join million of workers in Britain for what union leaders there believe will be the biggest strike action since 1926.

Firefighters to vote on strike action
Members of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association [IFESA] are to be balloted for strike action over proposed cuts to Dublin Fire Brigade.
Management at Dublin Fire Brigade wish to introduce €1.7 million in cuts to the service on top of the €3.8 million that had been agreed during the Croke Park talks.
IFESA represents over 500 firefighters and paramedics in the capital. Union chairman John Kidd said, “They are either going to take vehicles off the road or personnel. We are asking people to support their local fire and emergency services.”
The ballot will take place at an emergency general meeting on September 2.

Nurses’ union warns of bed crisis
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in Beaumont Hospital have expressed concern at the level of overcrowding which exists within the hospital.
HSE cutbacks have caused 60 beds to remain closed, while patients are forced to wait in trolleys in the Emergency department.
Speaking on Tuesday [Auguust 30], Edward Mathews of INMO said: “We are calling upon the Health Service Executive to see the reality of health service cutbacks and the effect that these are having on ordinary people who are attending one of the largest hospitals in the country. Urgent action is necessary to ensure that patients who are fit to be discharged from the hospital have a long term bed where this is required.”

Union moves to save Munster newspaper
Unite has said it will develop a plan to save the Munster Express newspaper, following management’s proposal to slash 11 of the paper’s 24 jobs.
The management proposal included ‘outsourcing’ eight of the positions in the production and printing of the paper, which is based in Waterford.
Unite regional secretary Brendan Byrne said the union “will put forward proposals to maintain the newspaper in Waterford. They will require input from all those who are involved at the Munster Express, from the owners through to all staff and those who care about maintaining a strong local resource.”
“We cannot and will not allow the proposals put forward yesterday to be implemented as they would effectively kill the paper.”

Mass Strike Action on the Horizon in the Six Counties
As unemployment continues to grow and the Tory cuts agenda as implemented by the Stormont administration begins to bite, the two largest public sector unions in the Six Counties have declared their intention to ballot members for strike action.

Restaurant Workers Demonstrate to Defend Conditions
Members of the Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum held a demonstration at the Annual Irish Restaurant Awards on Wednesday. The Awards are hosted by the Restaurants Association of Ireland, which is behind an attack on the wages and conditions of workers in the industry by calling for the abolition of the Catering Employment Regulation Order.

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