Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Doyle Concrete / Steelite
"We've crossed the point of no return"
AN ANGRY dispute at Doyle Concrete / Steelite is now entering into its sixth week. The 35 strikers have increased their action to 24-hour picketing on the plant in Rathangan, Co. Kildare. Last week a truck, making a late evening delivery of steel, broke through the picket line with the driver ignoring appeals from strikers.
In response the workers blocked the truck from leaving and it was left overnight and not released till noon the next day until guarantees were given that no other deliveries would be attempted till the company sat down with union reps.
Management at Doyle's have engaged in a vicious assault on workers' pay and conditions over the past two years. In the last months they have taken on migrant workers on lower rates of pay and then carried out forced redundancies on long standing employees. This week the Labour Court found in favour of the workers and stated that the company "acted unreasonably in reducing established rates of pay" for new non-national entrants.
SIPTU referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act. But while any recommendation is binding on the union, the company is not bound and so far they have ignored the Court's recommendations.
Shop Steward CIARAN NOLAN spoke to SUSAN FITZGERALD.
"The union is only here about two years, we knew we were going to need help down the road because we could see what was going on. Doyles is a family business, the son and daughter took over in the last 18 months and since then our conditions have gone down hill.
"We were told on the Friday before the construction holidays that they needed to restructure and make the company more viable and that lay-off's were inevitable. Can you imagine doing that to lads just before they go on holidays - none of us knew if we had a job to go back to?
"When we came back they said they were making five people redundant, this was then reduced to four. Two of the lads were on long term sick and one was part time but the fourth was Anthony Lawlor, they wanted him out. Anthony is a great man for standing up for both himself and the lads. They don't want anyone who might cause trouble. They said they needed cuts but they had only just taken on several migrant workers, paying them a lot less than us".
"Management have been telling the lads from Poland that we are striking because we don't want them here, this is rubbish. We even got an interpreter to speak to them and tell them that they are being paid a starting rate of up to n3 an hour less than everyone else and that they shouldn't be just getting a flat rate for overtime. Our attitude is that if a worker is on the same wage as you they don't pose any threat to your job but when they are working for less it's a threat to all of our jobs.
"Most of us are married men with young children and families to support. This dispute is very hard, Doyles have never been challenged before, this new management have been making up the rules as they go along. But we've crossed the point of no return now and we won't quit till the established rates are restored and the lads get their jobs back."
Support the Doyle Concrete/Steelite workers
SIPTU shop steward and Doyle concrete / Steelite striker, Ciaran Nolan, asks workers and trade unionists to support their struggle.
Benefit Night - 18 November - Mill House, Rathangan Euro10 per ticket
Rally in support of the striking workers on Sunday 20 November at 2pm in Rathangan