February 2014        

Union news

TEEU votes overwhelmingly for national strike

Members of the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union have voted, with 94 per cent in favour, for industrial action to protect pay rates and working conditions in the electrical contracting industry. The ballot followed a decision by the Electrical Contractors’ Association, the largest employers’ group, to allow members to impose pay cuts unilaterally on a firm-by-firm basis.
      The general secretary of the TEEU, Éamon Devoy, said that the outcome of the ballot “shows the strength of feeling of our members. During the last nine years they have been faced with serious austerity measures, including both direct and indirect tax increases, negative equity in their homes, and the loss of medical insurance, as well as falling earnings. Now, just as the economy shows signs of recovery, the employers want to impose pay cuts.”

Elvery’s staff left in the dark over buy-out

Reports that the management at Elvery’s Sports are preparing a “pre-pack” receivership are a worrying development for workers, because of the accompanying uncertainty about their jobs and their terms and conditions of employment.
      It follows the company’s announcement on 31 March last that a receiver was being appointed and that the business would be sold to a group of managers. It later emerged that other parties had expressed an interest in the business, including, it is claimed, Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Newcastle United Football Club and Lifestyle Sports.
      Mandate, which represents workers in Elvery’s, has insisted that whatever the future is for the company, workers there will be best protected by being members of their union. “Whoever the new owner of Elvery’s will be, whether Mike Ashley, Lifestyle Sports or the current management,” said Gerry Light, assistant general secretary of Mandate, “the priority for the company will be to maximise profits in whatever way they can.”

Trade unions launch “Know Your Rights at Work in Australia”

The youth wings of Mandate and the Communications Workers’ Union have launched a guide to workers’ rights in Australia for Irish workers on temporary visas. The document was prepared by Australian trade unionists for distribution in Ireland and among Irish workers in Australia.
      David Gibney of Mandate Youth, who spent two years in Melbourne, said Irish workers are in a precarious position when arriving in Australia. “Irish workers in Australia on a 457 visa are often exploited because of the fact that their visa is tied to their employer, and the withdrawal of their contract can often mean having a number of weeks to either find alternative sponsorship or to leave the country.
      “With the current economic environment in Ireland, including an exceptionally high youth unemployment rate, many young workers are afraid to ‘rock the boat’ and vindicate their rights at work, for fear of losing their sponsorship and having to return home to such a bleak working environment.”
      Derek Keenan, chairperson of the CWU Youth Committee, said: “Eager to get a foothold in the Australian job market, and facing an uncertain future in terms of residence, Irish migrant workers are susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous employers seeking to exploit their precarious situation. However, by joining trade unions in Australia, Irish migrant workers not only help protect themselves but also help maintain the existence of decent employment with good rates of pay and conditions for all those who live and work in Australia.”

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