‘Everybody Needs A Bit Of Stability’

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Former Dunnes Stores workers Corinna and Tony Malone on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live last night

Corinna had worked in Dunnes Stores for seven months before she was recently sacked after taking industrial action. She said she had been working approximately 28 to 33 hours a week while, at Christmas, she worked 15 to 20 hours – because there are more workers hired during the Christmas period.

Corinna told Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live last night:

“After I took [industrial] action, on Friday, the 3rd of April, I was doing my shift and I was brought up to the office by personnel and the management. Basically, they just said they wanted to let me go. I asked, ‘why?’. And they said they couldn’t give a reason…I was very upset. I was told I had to work a week’s notice, which I did.

I just didn’t know what to do that day as I had to go back on to the check-outs, after I was being told, by management, that I was being let go…

No [I don’t regret the action I took]. I’m happy that I did go out on strike on that day because low-hour contracts – you’ve no life, you can’t plan your life. You can’t get mortgages, you can’t get loans. So, something has to be changed…I have to go on Social Welfare now and I have to apply for more work.”

Tony Malone, who worked in Dunnes Stores in Dundalk before he was sacked, told Claire:

“We went on strike on the Thursday and I went in on the Friday morning, as normal, and as the morning went along, I just spoke to one of my colleagues and said I had a weird feeling. And he said, ‘what do you mean?’. I said, ‘I’ve just an empty feeling’, I just feel something bad is going to happen.

So I went on my lunch, around 11am and I came back and I got the phone call to come up the stairs to the HR office and my manager was there and the HR manager was there and they asked me would I like any representation. I declined. So they sat me down and they says, ‘right, we’re going to have to let you go, due to the downturn in business.’ I goes, ‘sure this is victimisation over what happened yesterday’ and they said, ‘no it’s not’ and I goes, ‘well you look from the outside in and you tell me this isn’t victimisation, less than 24 hours after what happened yesterday’.

And I just left then…[Life on a low-hour contract] is bad. You can’t get bank loans for a house. You can’t get Credit Union loans. People don’t want to know you. All people are interested in is, what’s on your contract at the end of the week.

They don’t care if you’re getting 40 hours a week, all they’re interested in seeing is what you’re guaranteed every week…Everybody needs a bit of stability in their life. That’s all everyone was looking for, before anything happened. A bit of stability, a bit of a guarantee, so they can have a life.”

Dunnes Stores declined to have a respresentative on the panel.

Watch in full here

57 thoughts on “‘Everybody Needs A Bit Of Stability’

  1. Bluebeard

    Dunnes are really disappointing in this one. Im not really sure on what level the are being clever.

    1. B Hewson

      Pure laziness in roster management and disregard for employees from Dunnes. The arrogance comes from the top down. These workers deserve consistency in their lives. Good news is there are at least more options and jobs for them than 3 or 4 years ago. I won’t shop in Dunnes again.

  2. Hank

    I really wish more people would just boycott those fuppers.
    It’s the only thing that would get through to them.

    It’s not as though there aren’t alternate supermarkets to shop in..

  3. Vote Rep #1

    I’ll be honest, when they went on strike first while I agreed with it and wouldn’t cross the picket, it wouldn’t have put me off going to Dunnes after since, unless I am mistaken, all supermarkets do the same thing. If I was to avoid them, I’d have to avoid them all which would mean I’d end up doing my shopping in my eye wateringly expensive newsagents. Their actions since have been pretty bloody disgusting though and really smells like it came from the big boss made of leather.

    1. SweetPeteato

      I think you may be mistaken there, O can remember hearing that most of the other big guys don’t do the zero hours contract thing. Someone else will probably come along with the details

      1. Vote Rep #1

        Lidl does and in the UK, Tesco do as well so I would presume that they do here as well. No idea about Aldi or SuperValu.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Basically everyone in the UK has zero-hours contracts, its a bit of an election issue here

    2. newsjustin

      Does anyone know if it’s true that the other major supermarkets use similar contracts/terms/conditions in their stores? Or is it just Dunnes that use these 15 hour contracts. Not really inclined to go back to another Dunnes again. But if they’re all at it, puts a different complexion on things.

      1. Bobojoc

        I think Tesco, Arnotts and M&S have signed up to give certain assurances to staff in relation to regular hours and shifts. What’s required now is for ICTU to grow a pair and issue a statement calling for a boycott of Dunnes. The treatment by Dunnes of probably the lowest paid, unskilled workers in ’employment’ is absolutely sickening.

    3. Clampers Outside!

      Dunnes had up to 80% staff on full time salaried jobs c.20 years ago. Today c.80% plus are on 15 hr contracts ( This was quoted by some papers last week, no link, sorry ).

      These low hour contracts in Dunnes are the worst because there is no possibility of getting any fixed hours, increased hours, and if wanted, eventual fulltime work.
      I hate to say this, but Tesco does all that. And the woman above was filmed on another programme saying she would love Dunnes to move to the fairer model that Tesco uses. I know, Tesco, being called “fair” ….wtf? ….but if they are fairer by comparison, then it just goes to show how low Dunnes have gone.

    1. Dubloony

      I don’t think they’ve got the message that there is more competition now.
      Supervalue just took the no. 1 slot from Tesco as biggest retailer.

    2. 15 cents

      they dont have one.. or need one. theyre not stupid at the end of the day, just mean. they know that they can do this, and shoddy irish law wont punish them for it coz it favours the employer, and they know the nation wont boycott them for more than a day at a time (while its in the media) and that people will more or less forget soon enough, coz we are so quick to forget (not fine fails popularity rise even after destroying the whole country).. so all in all, they dont have to do anything really

  4. Soundings

    Seriously Mandate, you don’t need to strike or expose your workers to victimisation as well as losing a day’s pay.

    Just announce a Dunnes-free fortnight. The solidarity displayed last Thursday week guarantees you’ll be far more successful doing this than having another strike.

    Don’t believe it? Just do the Dunnes-free fortnight, get feedback from your members about sales, and if it hasn’t worked, you still have the option of further strikes, but it will work, the nation is behind the Dunnes workers.

    1. Paolo

      Agreed. All of the trade unions should do this. The retail market is so cut-throat that a 5 to 10% drop in turnover would shut them down. That will make them listen.

    2. martco

      Soundings…you’re on the ball there

      a boycott of Dunnes is the only language they’ll understand BUT not for 2 weeks, I’d be more of a mind to permanently boycott them (and anything Maggie + her dynasty has a directorship in)….reason being that unions fupping about with potential court cases etc. with associated delays only serve to put a smile on Maggies face as she continues to make serious profit while the arguments happen…

      Dunnes are really good at printing money, literally nothing else counts for them and everybody is a sucker to them (believe or not their competitors are not all like them)….there’s a not very often talked about other matter which is the way they treat suppliers and make money off their backs that I’ve seen 1st hand

      Its a bit like trying to negotiate with the xenomorph out of the Alien movies, utterly pointless, you have to kill them simple as

  5. Paolo

    Boycott them. Low/Zero hour contracts should be illegal. It is a race to the bottom and the only winners are those who watch the race from the box seats.

    1. Rob_G

      Zero hour contracts aren’t necessarily a bad idea (for companies that provide bar staff for events and such); but Dunnes does seem to rely too heavily on them.

      1. martco

        Rob sorry I disagree, the concept is immoral utterly unfair, merely an instrument for employers to do what they want with labour

        If they’re not necessarily a bad idea then please tell me what they exactly achieve for either the employer or employee that wouldn’t be normally possible without their existence?

        ?

      2. Paolo

        (for companies that provide bar staff for events and such)

        They are temp workers. I was one and it was a really useful way of earning extra money from time to time. Zero hours workers are different because they are on a contract and generally are prohibited from having another job.

        1. Owen C

          “They are generally prohibited from having another job”

          I’d genuinely like to know if that is true. Again, would put massively different complexion on things. I always assumed they were free to get other employment.

          Btw, am not against the idea of zero hours contracts in theory (I think there should be protections where after a certain period of time they are offered fixed hour or minimum hour contracts, or where they are paid a premium, however modest, over people on fixed hour contracts), but completely and totally against the sacking of staff for staging a strike.

          1. bv

            Even if the prohibition isn’t explicit, if you only find out your roster week-to-week, and it’s constantly changing, you can hardly take up another job, can you? You never know when you might be working at the first one. Having worked as a waitress for an events company, how it works is: they ring you up a few weeks before, ask if you can do such-and-such an event, and if you can, then you do. You fit it in around your other job, and they don’t penalise you if you say no occasionally; they know that the events job is a second job for most of the staff, precisely because it’s a temporary one.

  6. Mr. T.

    In the good times, everyone moaned about unions because they thought they were irrelevant. Short sighted views of people who never really saw a recession and had it easy getting work.

    Now maybe they can see the point to collective bargaining and strength in numbers when dealing with business owners who are never happy with the amount of profit they make for themselves. How rich do they have to be before they’ll learn to respect the people who work for them.

    1. bruce01

      How come unions allow their members sign the low-hours contracts? Surely they should advise against it?

      1. Graven

        Because, usually, you are in employment first and *then* join a union which represents staff in your workplace.

  7. the good helen

    i worked for dunnes nearly 20 yrs ago an they were the same then. mgt were pure awful I wouldnt shop in dunnes if it was the last store on earth.

    1. Soundings

      This evening is Oriental evening in our household, and we’ll be using Dunne’s spring onions (39c) and prawns (€3.20) in a Tam Yam, all the other ingredients come from retailers which aren’t treating their employees like dirt.. Both of these Dunnes items are loss leaders as far as I know. It would be helpful if the other Dunnes loss leaders could be posted.

      Boycott Dunnes sure, but it may bring about changes quicker if you buy their loss leaders only, so they’ll be out of stock for the other suckers shoppers who aren’t boycotting Dunnes.

  8. Darren

    Is it legal for Dunnes to just sack someone like that?

    These people have contracts, can an employer just turn around and say “we’re terminating your employment because of cutbacks”.

    The picking and choosing of whom they sack would seem dodgy? Maybe I’m wrong.

  9. Frilly Keane

    Boycott

    Its the only thing Dunnes will pay attention to

    They’ll never see me again
    That’s for sure
    And I won’t even notice

    Join in lads

  10. munkifisht

    Funny how fickle Irish people are. I wonder if Dunnes rebranded to Irish Water would the BS massive start trolling the workers as doll scum?

    Good that RTÉ is give this some positive coverage though.

      1. munkifisht

        Anyone who protests Irish water is pretty much vilified in here, a lot of the time by pointing at people’s social background, while Dunnes workers are (rightly) supported, despite the fact thats there’s a pretty large crossover of people coming from the same socioeconomic background.

        By the way, I’m no fan of water protests but I am a big fan of peoples rights to protest.

    1. Paolo

      Wow! You manage to conflate two entirely different issues with different stakeholders. Congratulations on your gigantic strawman.

  11. Mr. T.

    Soon it will be illegal to call for a boycott of a business. Certainly if Fine Gael’s plans see the light of day.

  12. YourNan

    Surely if you wanted more stability (and the responsibility that comes with it) you wouldn’t work in a shitty supermarket but skilled up and got a proper job?

  13. Eric Cartman

    “You can’t get mortgages” If your trying to get a mortgage working as floor staff in a supermarket, you have a few screws loose in the logic department.

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