Adams calls on Government to support Dundalk workers

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking in the Dáil has expressed his grave concern at the impact of the closure of the Authentic Food Company on the almost 200 workers employed there. The workers have received “no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. They will receive no wages during the 30 day consultation period or the two week notice period. This means that families with mortgages and other financial bills will have no money for six weeks.”

Gerry Adams TD called on the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty to “take urgent action to ensure that workers from the Authentic Food Company have access to social welfare”.

Teachta Adams also urged the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphrey’s “to investigate whether the closure of this business was a tactical insolvency by the British based company, and what steps she is taking to ensure that either a new buyer is found for the plant or the workforce is reemployed as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday Gerry Adams TD met with the Liquidator, spoke to Enterprise Ireland and met with representatives of the UNITE union.

Speaking in the Dáil Gerry Adams said:

“I first wrote to the company on 21 September having been contacted by workers and their representatives about rumours that Authentic Food was closing. The company did not respond to my initial correspondence or to representations from Sinn Féin Councillors Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell.

Instead on 19 October the company went to the High Court. Staff at Authentic Foods then received notice that the company was allegedly insolvent and unable to pay wages,

The Managing Director of Authentic Foods, Nik Basran, claims that the management carried out a comprehensive review of the business to try and find a way to make it profitable over the long term but he said this was not possible.

The Minister has a responsibility to ask what type of review is it that excludes the workers’ representatives, that refuses to engage directly with UNITE. What kind of review is it that can be manipulated by employers so that these workers have no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. This is very calculated. It is sharp practice.

Will the Minister give the Dáil a commitment that she will investigate whether this is a tactical insolvency? We need to establish if the British based Authentic Food Company deliberately wound down the Dundalk plant.

The work force has been treated shamefully. They can’t access social welfare. I would urge the Minister for Social Protection to use her discretion to ensure that workers get their social welfare payments as soon as possible.

I would ask the Minister for Enterprise to do everything possible to have this workforce reemployed as quickly as possible. The government needs to make it very clear that it does not countenance companies refusing to talk to trade unions in situations involving a restructuring or a closure.

There is also an urgent need to prevent liquidations being used in a tactical manner to the advantage of the companies and the disadvantage of workers, their families and community.

Let me remind the Dáil that Sinn Féin has already introduced a Bill that would give trade unions “the right to be heard” in matters of industrial relations – the 2018 Trade Union Representation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018

We have also had a bill passed at second stage that would address the issue of tactical insolvencies – the 2016 Protection of Employees (Collective Redundancies) Bill.

Despite the fact that it was passed unanimously by the Dáil at second stage the government decided to block it from going to third stage committee via a money message. I ask the government to ensure government support for this Bill.”

Anord workers deserve fair treatment – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has met with staff at Dundalk switchgear manufacturing company, Anord, regarding its restructuring proposals which include up to 23 voluntary redundancies.

Staff members, many of whom have been Anord employees for over 25 years, are concerned that the redundancy package proposed does not reflect the commitment they have shown to the company over the period of their employment.

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has said that the management of Anord in Dundalk must behave honourably in respect of redundancy terms offered to staff.

Gerry Adams said;

“I have met with Anord workers, some of whom have been with the company a lifetime, and the terms that they have been offered by the company are simply not acceptable.

“It’s alarmingly clear from the discussions that I have had with staff and with Union representatives, that they believe that the company intends to get rid of their current electricians and re-employ alternative, cheaper, labour.

“Anord is a global company and I respect the fact that it has been an employer in the Dundalk area for 50 years.

“I have made contact with the company directly and I urge them to maintain the good name of Anord in the area and to treat their staff with respect.

                         Cllr Antóin Watters

“I have also written to the Minister for Employment to urge her to use her influence to assist the workers in whatever way she can.”

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Waters added,

“I have been inconstant contact with Anord staff and I hope that this issue can be brought to a successful resolution for all parties involved.

“These staff have been loyal to Anord for over 25 years and they deserve a fair package.”

 

Gerry Adams: Brexit Casts its Shadow Over Worker’s Rights

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams addressed the Global Steering Committee of the trans-national UNI Global Union in Monasterboice, County Louth, on Wednesday evening. UNI Global Union was holding its two-day international conference. Representatives from over a dozen countries participated in the conference which was looking at health care issues and the approach of the Union, which represents 20 million workers in over 150 counties worldwide, to issues like Brexit.

Gerry Adams was asked to speak to the conference on the issue of Brexit, as well as the recent 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Teachta Adams called on the Irish government, in the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty, to lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. He said: “This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Speaking on Brexit Gerry Adams said:

“The British referendum result in 2016 on Brexit is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many decades. No part of the island of Ireland, and in particular border regions like County Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit.

Workers will also be especially vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit. Many important elements of existing workers’ rights, such as pay and working time, are regulated by EU social law. Brexit is a threat to this.

There is little doubt that the Tories in London, supported by their allies in the DUP, will use Brexit to whittle away at hard-fought workers’ rights. They will seek to undermine the rights of trade unions – including the right to join a trade union, to strike, and to organise collectively

In terms of workers’ rights, the Tories and Brexiteers are keen to see:

·         The erosion of legislation protecting agency workers;

·         The expansion of zero-hour and if-and-when contracts;

·         The removal of key elements of anti-discrimination law;

·         Deregulation of work safety standards in the name of ‘efficiency’

·         Attacks on laws relating to migrant workers and immigration – which feeds into xenophobia

·         Attacks on the welfare state and the social wage

These issues are not confined to the north and to Britain. The conservative right in this state will also use Brexit to attack workers’ rights and standards. We are already facing a rise in if-and-when contracts, in agency workers, and the watering-down of pension and other entitlements.

Fine Gael’s moves against the welfare state in the South – making it more difficult for workers to avail of unemployment payments, along with the outsourcing of the social protection system to private, for-profit, operators – will increase under Brexit.

They will claim that this is necessary because of the “threat” caused by Brexit to the economy. In other words, what “austerity” was in the last ten years, “Brexit” will be for the next ten. This needs to be challenged and resisted.

Sinn Féin believes that this can be accomplished most effectively through a coming together of progressive forces in the north and south – political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups.

Only such progressive partnerships can genuinely resist the onslaught from the political right on the lives of ordinary people.”

Concluding Gerry Adams said:

“In the Brexit referendum the people of the North voted to remain in the EU. In the aftermath of the referendum Sinn Féin called for the North to be given a special status within the EU. That position is supported by the Oireachtas, the majority of MLAs in the Assembly and the European Parliament.

In the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty the Irish government must lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Gerry Adams criticises Tesco moves to cut wages

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD and Party Leader Gerry Adams has expressed his deep concern at efforts by Tesco to cut the wages of long serving staff members; this includes workers who have been employed by the company for 20 years.

After meeting with Tesco workers in Dundalk today, Gerry Adams said:

“Tesco Ireland is one of the most profitable companies in the State. It is unacceptable that it should be seeking to reduce the pay and terms and conditions of its long term and most loyal employees. 

“Workers, like some of those in Dundalk with decades of service, are being asked to accept a cut in pay and a substantial cut in hours. This is sharp practice and another example of an extremely profitable company rowing back on workers’ pay and rights.

“This government has failed to legislate to protect workers, especially low paid workers. It uses words like competitiveness, flexibility and attractiveness to justify exploitation and a growing low wage economy. 

“Its claims of a recovery stand exposed, but it is a two tier recovery built on the exploitation of low paid workers, the extension of zero hour contracts, and the refusal to recognise the right of trade unions to negotiate and represent large amounts of workers.

“Sinn Féin is for a fair recovery, a sustainable recovery, and that must mean recognising the rights of workers, and proper rights and conditions.”

 

Adams backs Dunnes Strikers in Dundalk and Drogheda

Dunnes Stores have 113 stores, including seven of which are in Louth.

Three in Dundalk and four in Drogheda.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD expressed Sinn Féin’s “solidarity and absolute and unambiguous support for the Dunnes Stores workers in Dundalk who are taking industrial action today as part of their campaign for decent working conditions, wages and standard of living for them and their families.”

Gerry Adams said:

“In my recent letter to the Directors of Dunnes Stores I made very clear Sinn Fein’s support for the Decency for Dunnes Workers Campaign. I also expressed our total support for their right to secure hours and incomes; secure jobs; fair pay; and the right to trade union representation.

The Decency for Dunnes Workers is calling for the introduction of banded hour contracts to give workers security of hours and earning; fair and consistent work; and a review of Dunnes excessive use of temporary contracts of employment.

The workers and Mandate Trade Union have tried to resolve this dispute directly with Dunnes Management. They have also sought to use the State’s mechanisms for resolving industrial disputes such as the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

Dunnes has rejected all attempts at mediation and negotiation and have broken an existing 1996 agreement procedure for resolving industrial disputes.

The Dunnes Workers are taking a stand in defence of their own rights but also in support of low-paid workers, part time and casual workers across this state who are victim of exploitation.