Industrial Reports

Socialist Voice, June 2003

CPSU: suspensions threatened

Management threatened CPSU members in An Post that they would be suspended and taken off the pay roll on 6 May, if they continued their industrial action.

By Terry Kelleher

This dispute arose from a pay offer made to our members which was significantly less than what had been previously given to similar grades. Moreover the offer made to CPSU members sought more productivity than the previous deal to other An Post staff.

At a mass meeting in Liberty Hall, the pay offer was rejected by 80% of the members. Following this vote, management threatened to implement the suspensions.

At further meeting, following this threat, it was unanimously agreed that if one member was suspended, then everyone would go out on strike. This decision was overwhelmingly endorsed in a secret ballot involving all CPSU members in An Post.

Following this decision, management wrote to the union inviting us to talks, these were the first direct discussions between the branch officers and management since the new branch officers were elected in February. These talks proved fruitless and we have since had two further meetings at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

At a members' meeting on 3 June both the branch committee and the members expressed their concern at the length of time spent on these negotiations. A major question amongst the workforce is whether this is a time wasting exercise by the company just to buy time to prepare for an all out dispute. It was overwhelmingly agreed at 6 June that if, as it seems, the LRC route is effectively at a dead end, then we will immediately ballot our members on an escalation of the action up to and including full strike action.

CPSU conference: cuts provoke anger

At this year's CPSU conference (16 - 17 May) delegates vented their anger against the government's public spending cuts and ICTU's inaction in the face of these attacks.

By Denis Keane, President CPSU.

Denis Keane, pres. of CPSU

CPSU members in the Department of Agriculture have been locked out of work for over two months and the conference agreed to back them in their dispute with whatever support was necessary.

Conference delegates visited the picket line in Tralee to show their solidarity and a magnificent collection raised just under 3,000 euro for the strike fund. An emergency motion was passed condemning the cuts and beds closures in our hospitals. This motion committed the union to actively supporting any campaign by the health unions against the government's assault on the health service. Motions were also passed which affiliated the union to the Irish Anti-war War Movement, supported the campaign against the bin charges and condemned ICTU for its stance on the Nice Treaty referendum.

A new executive committee was elected at conference, which resulted in a small right wing majority. This result goes against the mood of the conference, which was militant, anti-social partnership, and in favour of opposing the government's neo-liberal agenda. The CPSU Activist group must rise to the challenge of providing a credible alternative to the union's right wing. It is now crucial that the Activist group gets re-organised and spreads its ideas on how the union can best defend our members' interests throughout the whole union.

A raffle raised 200 euro for the Activist Group, 700 euro was raised for the Socialist Party campaign fund, and 140 copies of the Voice were sold.

ADM workers: Locked out and sacked

72 workers at the ADM chemical plant in Cork have been locked out by management for 14 weeks. The workforce believe that management pre-planned this lock out to break their union and to replace the workers with yellow pack labour.

By Stephen Boyd

Prior to Christmas, the ADM workforce were on overtime, some on double shifts in order to meet the company's volume of orders for citric acid and other products. Now the workers believe that this was a deliberate ploy by management to build up stockpiles for the lock out.

Management proposed a shift system and refused to negotiate with the workers on its implementation. ADM claimed that the new system was needed because of financial difficulties. Management have refused the workers' demand to let them see the company's books. On 5 March, after refusing to go to the LRC and the Labour Court, management began to lock out the workers as they turned up for their shifts. The company has since announced the closure of the plant and will announce its future plans for the facility on 20 June. The workers firmly believe that the company is trying to starve them into taking statutory redundancy so they can re-open the factory with a new low paid workforce. A plan to introduce yellow pack labour seven years ago was defeated by the workforce.

The workers have been refused social welfare payments. ADM wrote to all of the workers on 14 March infoming them that they had been made redundant due to the workers' inductrial action! This explanation has been accepted by the Department of Social Welfare and Mary Harney. An appeal against this decision has already been lost, and the outcome of a social welfare tribunal is awaited. Workers in other chemical factories in the Cork Harbour area have been collecting money for the ADM workers, and 500 of them participated in a solidarity march. The Socialist Party and other trade unionists in Cork are organising activities to publicise the ADM workers' plight and to raise money for their hardship fund.

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