Dunnes Stores has said it has a 'constitutional right' to not engage directly with trade unions, in a letter to its staff. It has also accused trade union Mandate of seeking to create a dispute that does not exist with its staff to secure negotiation rights.
The letter said that despite the economic downturn, the supermarket has put in place two pay-rises and maintained employment levels. It also warned that 4,000 staff could face redundancies or layoffs if the trade union Mandate proceeds with its dispute.
Mandate has accused Dunnes Stores of using low and zero hour contracts, leaving staff with uncertainty about their working hours and income. It is seeking the introduction of banded hour contracts to improve security of hours and earnings, as well as individual and collective representation rights for Dunnes Stores employees.
Dunnes Stores has told staff that it would not enter into direct negotiations with a trade union, stating, "Dunnes Stores, similar to many substantial companies that operate in Ireland and internationally, do not engage directly with trade unions. We live in a country that has a constitution right that recognises the right of association that is to become a member of a trade union, which Dunnes Stores wholeheartedly endorses."
However, it added that, "it also recognises that there is a right effectively of disassociation, namely that an employer is not obliged to nor must it talk or engage directly with trade unions."
The letter cited a Supreme Court ruling in relation to a case involving Ryanair and trade union Impact, that a company has a constitutional right to decide not to engage with unions.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.