From Socialist Voice, April 2011

Workers in struggle

Victory for hotel workers

Five members of SIPTU employed by the Davenport Hotel in Dublin were sacked for refusing to accept a cut in their pay of €8.65—the minimum wage—days after the Government rushed through legislation to bring the minimum wage down to €7.79. The workers refused to be bullied but stood their ground and placed pickets on the hotel, supported by their union.
     On 7 March the Labour Court ruled that the workers must be reinstated and their pay rate be restored to €8.50. It has also recommended that the five accommodation workers be paid all the money they would have earned had they not been removed from the roster in February. It declared that the five women should be included on the duty roster that was due to take effect on Wednesday 9 March.
     In its finding the Labour Court also rejected the submission of the hotel operator that the reduction in hourly pay from €8.65 to €7.79 was necessary to sustain jobs, as the company had not provided any trading or financial information to back up its claim.
     The court said that the company should have provided employees with all relevant information necessary to make an informed decision on the proposed pay cut, and that they should have been given a reasonable period within which to take advice on the matter.
     The five women—one from Poland and four from Lithuania—whose duties included cleaning rooms and corridors and changing linen, had worked at the Davenport Hotel for between four and six years. In January they were asked by the management at the hotel, which is owned by the businessman Noel O’Callaghan, to sign a new contract or face being taken off the work roster. No copies of the contract, either in English or in their own languages, were given to them. When they refused to sign they were taken off the payroll. SIPTU served strike notice on 9 February.
     The SIPTU organiser, Pat Ward, said it was “a great outcome for the workers concerned and for SIPTU. The five women displayed real courage in resisting severe pressure from their employer to take a cut in their minimum wage level.”

SIPTU serves strike notice on Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta

SIPTU has served notice of strike action on Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teo. in Co. Galway, to begin from Wednesday 16 March. Pickets will be placed on the company’s premises in Ros Muc and Indreabhán.
     The dispute is over the unilateral imposition of pay cuts and the issuing of redundancy notice to four workers in a situation where, according to the union, redundancies are not required. The SIPTU organiser, Diane Jackson, said: “The unilateral actions by the company left our members with no alternative but to ballot for strike action. The union submitted a proposal to MFG that is workable and which maintains jobs and in turn protects the services provided in the communities served by our members.”
     She said that the union is seeking the withdrawal of the redundancy notices so that the parties can engage in meaningful discussions to find a satisfactory resolution to the issues, but so far the company has refused to talk.

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