From Socialist Voice, September 2009

Workers in struggle

Marine Terminals

Increasingly, employers are resorting to the courts to secure injunctions against their workers. As militancy grows, though on a small scale at the moment, important expression of resistance need to be supported.
     At the end of August, Marine Terminals Ltd obtained an injunction against its employees, members of SIPTU who have been on strike for ten weeks, against their union officials and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
     Since workers first combined to form unions, those who have passed pickets or carried on working while their fellow-workers were outside the gate have always been called scabs. It is a very honourable way to describe dishonourable people.
     Now we have the High Court ruling that to use that word is to cause offence and that if the workers continue to use it they will find themselves in jail for contempt of court. So not alone have workers’ rights been curtailed and conditions imposed on how picketing can take place, they are now attempting to censor how we should speak. This is the third injunction against these dock workers.
     What the employers want is no union at all, and if that can’t be achieved then passive ones will do and the silencing of workers’ voices.


SIPTU members employed by Coca-Cola HBC Ireland Ltd at its main distribution centres have been on strike since the 3rd of September. The action is in protest against the company’s plan to subcontract the jobs of 130 distribution and warehousing workers in Dublin, Tuam, Waterford, Tipperary and Cork and to impose new terms and conditions of work.
     Coca-Cola refused to discuss any alternative course of action with SIPTU, which represents the 130 workers in dispute. At the end of August drivers and warehouse workers received letters from three private transport companies offering them new employment at greatly disimproved pay and working conditions and containing threats of redundancy.
     The companies—Brian Daly Transport Services Ltd of Ratoath, Co. Meath, Liam Carroll Haulage Ltd of Thurles, Co. Tipperary, and Kiely’s Distribution Ltd of Tipperary—informed the workers that they will be forced to accept reduced pay, loss of pensions and increased hours of work when they transfer to their employment.
     Coca-Cola HBC Ireland Ltd is owned by Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company SA of Athens, which in turn is part-owned (23 per cent) by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia. Coca-Cola HBC, which revealed profits of €201 million in the six months to the end of June, has begun a process of restructuring in Ireland, Austria and Italy and has cut almost five thousand jobs since 2008.
     The striking Coca-Cola workers in Ireland were dragged before the courts and an injunction slapped on them at the bosses’ request. This effectually prevents picketing of the Coca-Cola factory. The pretext was that the injunction was in the interests of the “health and safety” of the picketers, because on two occasions cars driven by managers drove through the picket line, on one occasion injuring a picketer, who had to be admitted to hospital. So workers are dragged before the courts for dangerous actions of the management!

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