Mandate Trade Union calls on Connolly Shoes’ owners to pay Rights Commissioners’ awards to four strikers
Thursday 28 April 2011, 10am
The Mandate Trade Union has called on the owners of Connolly’s Shoes to
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pay the thousands of Euros owed to four striking workers due to a number
of awards from the Rights Commissioners. The four workers concerned have
been on strike at Connolly’s Shoes’ Dun Laoghaire branch for the last
year and to mark the strike’s first anniversary, Mandate has issued a
special e-card to thousands of its supporters right around the country.
Mandate Divisional Organiser, Joe Donnelly, explained that the workers
went on strike because their employer, Matt Connolly, tried to unilaterally
force further pay cuts on their workers and other changes in their
conditions while they were already on a shorter working week.
Mr Donnelly said that the workers have still received no compensation
from Connolly Shoes a year after having been summarily dismissed.
“Indeed, the workers recently brought a number of cases before the
Rights Commissioners and, as result, sums totalling thousands of Euros
were awarded in their favour for breaches of the Payment of Wages Acts.
Unfortunately, Connolly’s Shoes have refused to pay over any of these awards
leaving their workers in a very tight situation financially as a result.
In addition, they have not attended hearings with either the Labour Relations
Commission or the Rights Commissioners. However, despite this, the four
strikers’ spirits remain remarkably high.”
Damian Keegan, one of the striking workers, explained that the last year
has been a hard slog for him and his three colleagues.
“The four of us, collectively, gave 110 years of loyal service to Connolly’s
Shoes and we had a very good relationship with management until the current
owner took over – this is why we have been so disappointed by how we have been
treated by the company over the last year.
“However, we’re determined to ensure that we get compensation for being
summarily dismissed as well as the money we’re owed for the company’s breaches
of the Payment of Wages legislation. It seems very strange to us that, in this
day and age, our employer can get away with ignoring the Labour Relations
Commission and the Rights Commissioners and leave us ‘high and dry’ as a result.”
Mr Keegan concluded by saying that if the four strikers get the money they are
owed then they could get back to living more normal lives once again. He also
acknowledged the huge support they have received from Mandate Trade Union,
elected representatives and members of the public.
Joe Donnelly explained some of the background to the one-year old strike.
“Connolly’s Shoes’ staff always recognised that in the current environment it
may be necessary to look at reducing costs. In this context, it’s a measure of
their commitment to the company that in autumn 2009, they believed that they
had an agreement on working a shorter working week and hoped that the company’s
owners would sit down and negotiate an ongoing agreement with them.
“However, only a few weeks later, Connolly’s Shoes insisted that the staff take
a further pay cut and accept more changes to their working hours. The staff asked
their employer to negotiate with Mandate Trade Union and he refused. Connolly’s
Shoes then asked the workers to sign an undertaking agreeing to these changes and
when two refused, they were sacked without any notice. Two of their colleagues
supported the two sacked workers and they were summarily dismissed as well. ”
Joe Donnelly pointed out that nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition calling
on the owners of Connolly Shoes to enter negotiations with their staff members or
their representatives Mandate Trade Union.
“The strike was granted ‘all out strike’ status by the Irish Congress of Trade
Unions (ICTU) and has received incredible support from the public. During July
2010, hundreds of local Dun Laoghaire people, trade unionists and prominent
politicians – including the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Éamon Gilmore TD – turned out in support of the workers at a public rally,”
Mr Donnelly concluded.