Laura Ashley workers joined by colleagues
Wednesday 22 December 2010, 12am
The Laura Ashley dispute has been running since 22 October and still the British furniture and fashion retailer refuses to engage with either Mandate or the State's labour relation forum the Labour Relations Commission. In a heroic act of solidarity, the workers of Laura Ashley Athlone recently voted to engage in a series of actions in protest at their employer's treatment of their Grafton Street colleagues.
The initial action took place on Saturday last, 18 December where the members staged a one day protest by mounting a picket on their place of employment. Mandate Divisional Organiser, John Carty said: "The action will be called off as soon as management agree to enter meaningful negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission. We hear much said by politicians and commentators about the importance of the spirit of community, well here is that spirit. People standing up for each other's rights and entitlements and people fighting for what they believe is right and just. But let there be no illusions, the workers of Athlone are also fighting for themselves. They are well aware that if their Grafton Street colleagues are trodden all over by this British retailer then they may well be next".
On Saturday 27 November, the Laura Ashley strikers joined 100,000 other demonstrators and marched on the capital to demand a better, fairer way. Laura Ashley worker, Berry Fleming, took to the stage at the march and addressed the gathered crowd on what it was like to be on strike against a powerful multinational. She described her experience and explained that her employer and many others and now the Government have used the excuse of the economic crisis to drive down workers' wages and their terms and conditions of employment. Berry argued for an alternative approach one focused on investment and job creation.
"If we don't invest in jobs then the alternative is clear; hundreds of thousands of Irish people will be forced to leave the country once again. We must campaign to make sure this does not happen and we must make sure that we get a Government that is focused on growing the economy and creating jobs."
Podcasts of Laura Ashley
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