ON THIS DATE (3RD MARCH) 11 YEARS AGO : HUNGER-STRIKING GREEN ISLE FOODS WORKER TOLD BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE TO ‘GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY..’
Statement released on Wednesday, 3rd March 2010 – 11 years ago, on this date – by SIPTU:
History of Green Isle Foods dispute ; Workers in Green Isle Foods have embarked on a course of action not seen in Ireland for many years. Members of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) have been left on the picket line for six months by their employer and the parent company, Northern Foods in Britain.
The basic facts ; in December 2008, a TEEU member opened a new icon on his computer entitled ‘Boardroom’. He assumed it was an information bulletin. In fact it had been sent to him by mistake instead of to a senior member of management with a similar name. He did not pay much attention to the contents until a file appeared on the site in March 2009 containing restructuring proposals that involved making six TEEU members redundant.
The engineer showed his manager the file and shared the information with a number of fellow employees. When the company realised its error it insisted that all employees who may have accessed the ‘Boardroom’ folder sign a document confirming that they had done so and accepting it was a serious disciplinary offence for which they faced dismissal.
The members asked their union for advice. When the TEEU sought to represent them the company refused to entertain the union. The men were suspended on full pay, while Green Isle Foods applied to the High Court for an order seeking full disclosure from the employees along with exemplary damages for breach of contract, confidentiality, interfering with the company’s business and all legal costs – including interest.
The TEEU represented the men in court and after hearing the evidence Judge Mary Laffoy recommended that the parties agree a mutually acceptable process for resolving the problem. An agreement was reached by which all suspensions were lifted, the men returned to work and they agreed to co-operate with the company investigation. The investigation dragged on from early April until mid June 2009. Eamon Devoy, General Secretary Designate of the TEEU, eventually wrote to the company on June 17th, asking that the inquiry into ‘Boardroom’ be wound up because of the stress it was causing employees.
Instead, the company said it had begun what it claimed was a second investigation, wholly unrelated to the first, on the previous day, June 16th, into the storage of inappropriate emails on PCs. On June 18th it also issued the findings of its first investigation. This found the company IT systems were not secure or properly monitored. There was no evidence to suggest information from the ‘Boardroom’ folder had been given to anyone outside the company. Meanwhile, the company pursued its second investigation without any involvement from the TEEU, whose members refused to engage in the new process without union representation. The same individuals were investigated as in the ‘Boardroom’ inquiry and, while it remains unclear if this investigation was ever concluded, the men were dismissed at the end of what had proven a very secretive process, on July 10th,2009. Their appeals were rejected on July 31st. The company rejected an offer by the Labour Relations Commission to intervene.
Having failed to find some means of resolving the dispute through negotiation, mediation and dialogue, the TEEU served strike notice on Green Isle Foods. The response of the company was to bring in strike breakers, who were in place even before pickets were mounted at the end of August 2009.
Meanwhile, the other TEEU members, whose positions had been identified as redundant in the ‘Boardroom’ file, received satisfactory redundancy settlements. The crucial difference was that they were employees of ESS, a subcontractor on the Green Isle Foods site which recognises unions. Green Isle Foods has sought to portray the dispute as one involving the downloading of pornographic (material) from the internet, but in fact the Green Isle Foods system does not allow employees access to the internet, let alone the ability to download material. In the case of two TEEU members who were dismissed, they opened unsolicited emails which had nothing to suggest the material was inappropriate. In one case the man was dismissed for failing to delete the email subsequently from his in-box although he did not show it to anyone else. The source of the unsolicited emails has never been identified by the company.
The third employee was dismissed because he brought a memory stick to work with film and video game material on it which was not pornographic images, but which the company claimed could breach copyright law if used on its equipment. After being on the picket line for over four months the TEEU referred the dispute to the Labour Court. The Court heard the case on December 4th, 2009. The company refused to attend, saying it did not recognise unions and therefore the Labour Court was an inappropriate forum to resolve the dispute. Nevertheless it was represented at the hearing by IBEC. The Court issued a recommendation on December 8th, 2009, stating it was satisfied the dismissals were unjustified, that there should be an immediate return to work, full reinstatement of the men and compensation for loss of earnings. In the event that this was not acceptable to the two sides the Court recommended that they should agree, through a third party if necessary, on a compensation package for the men.
When the company rejected this proposal the Court recommended, on January 5th, 2010, that the sacked men receive €40,000, €60,000 and €80,000 respectively, reflecting their lengths of service (seven, 10 and 16 years), if they were not reinstated as previously recommended.
When the company continued to ignore the Labour Court recommendations, the shop stewards, Jim Wyse and Declan Shannon, requested meetings with the company locally to resolve the dispute through direct talks. They even offered to negotiate on the Labour Court terms. Management met them briefly for a few minutes on three occasions over four weeks but did not even bother to make a note of the men’s proposals before rejecting them.
It was after this final rebuff that the workers decided to adopt a hunger strike strategy. They had spent six months on the picket line during the worst winter weather for 40 years and their families were experiencing extreme economic hardship. They felt it was the last means available to bring pressure to bear on a company that was impervious to all the normal rules of industrial relations or common decency.
Jim Wyse became the first hunger striker on February 17th. He volunteered to go first because it was his suggestion. John Guinan joined him on February 24th. John Recto joined the Green Isle Foods hunger strike on March 3rd, 2010.
Some hours before he joined Jim Wyse and John Guinan on hunger strike, John Recto was asked to call into Naas Garda Station, where he was informed that his work visa has been revoked. He was told he has until March 8th to leave the country. He is from the Philippines and has been working at Green Isle Foods for the past three years. His wife and three children, aged six, seven and one year old, are living with him in Naas. His youngest child was born in Ireland.
End of SIPTU statement.
To a certain extent, this is the fault of those that work for a wage and the overall Trade Union movement. All involved with this blog work outside (and inside) the home, for a wage, and are union members : in recent years – before the economic hardships imposed on us by Covid restrictions – we had been financially victimised by been forced to pay higher direct and indirect (‘stealth’) taxes, have seen our terms and conditions in the workplace suffer and most of us have had the value of our take-home pay reduced because of those direct and indirect taxes.
And we are still expected to work the same number of hours (39, in our case) that we worked before those deductions were forced on us at source. All this because the greedy, incompetent and useless political wasters in Leinster House need billions of Euro to bail-out their business, banking and property-speculating colleagues, who are equally just as greedy, incompetent and useless.
It is as much the fault of the Trade Union movement because they have become ‘soft’ and over-friendly with both groups of useless wasters mentioned above : in truth , the Trade Union leadership have more in common – and not only in relation to the money they ‘earn’ – with those two groups in that they lack the moral courage to stand-by their (stated) convictions and alleged intention – to protect that what we already have, in the workplace, and to seek to improve conditions for the working class.
We, the tax-paying working class, have been sold out four times over- by ourselves, for not only not whole-heartedly fighting back but for not actually leaving blood on the streets in our attempt to do so, by the self-serving and (pension-)time-serving millionaire politicians in this State, by the business owners, bosses and management and, finally, by ‘our’ trade union movement, who have shown that, once bought, they stay bought.
We should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.
(‘1169’ comment ; after 15 days on hunger-strike, the issue was settled. Some details here.)
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
In spite of very inclement weather, representatives of the Cork Comhairle Ceanntair, Sinn Féin, addressed a public meeting in the Square, Dunmanway, County Cork, on Saturday night, April 7th last. Liam Earley, D Mac Cionnaith and Jim O’Regan spoke, while P O Cuanachain presided.
All were warmly applauded by the listeners who requested that another meeting be held the following Sunday night at the conclusion of the mission, as it was felt that a lot more could have been present but for the condition of the weather.
The second meeting was held outside the church on Sunday night, April 15th last. A large crowd was present and applauded the speakers – Liam Earley, D Mac Cionnaith, Michael McCarthy, Jim O’Regan and Seán O Murchu. Dr Smith M.O., Dunmanway, presided at that meeting, at the conclusion of which a number of names were handed in for membership of various republican organisations. Collections for the Northern Election Fund were taken up at both meetings.
(END of ‘Dunmanway Meetings’ ; NEXT – ‘The Two-Nations Theory’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (3RD MARCH) 190 YEARS AGO : ‘RELIGIOUS TAX’ UPRISING IN IRELAND.
“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin…” – Mark Twain.
On the 3rd March, 1831 – 190 years ago on this date – 120 members of the British-imposed ‘Irish Constabulary’ (‘Yeomanry’) took over a farm in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, which belonged to a Catholic priest.
The objective of these ‘peace keepers’ was to take ownership of all the cattle on the farm, as their paymaster in Westminster had decreed that it now ‘owned’ the animals in lieu of monies ‘owed’ to it under their ‘Tithe’ system.
A member of clergy from the Protestant religion in Graiguenamanagh objected vehemently to the local Catholic priest having ‘taken ownership’ of his neighbours cattle thereby, as he seen it, doing him out of his ‘tithe/tax payment’ from those neighbours, so the clergy man demanded ‘his’ money from the Catholic priest, but this ‘Order’ was not acted on by the priest, so the clergyman arranged for his horse to be taken instead. This outraged the priest and his neighbours and resulted in tenants, labourers and other small farmers in the area also refusing to hand over ‘taxes due’.
The local ‘law’ and its ‘police officers’ intervened and moved onto and into the property where the priest was living and seized/stole as many cattle as they could but, by then, the locals had gathered at the farm to stop them or at least hinder their progress, which they did. Also, when the seized/stolen animals were sent to auction, the event was boycotted and/or disrupted by the proper owners of the animals.
The imposed tithes/taxes were compulsory and were to be paid in money and/or goods, including livestock (‘..one-tenth part of one’s income, in kind or money..’) with all financial benefits to go to the Protestant ‘Church of Ireland’ which, considering that the vast majority of those that were deemed liable by Westminster for that tax were not of that particular religion, caused deep resentment in Ireland, and rightly so ; the clergymen and their church were mostly hostile to practising Catholics, who were expected to finance their hostility!
And actuality, today, only the ‘Master’ has changed : we now have tithes/taxes stopped at source on us by those in the ‘Big House’ in Kildare Street, in Dublin, who have shown, over and over again, that they are hostile to the needs of the working class, the unemployed, and the homeless.
Vive La Différence, to be sure…
‘IN THE NAME OF THE LAW…’
Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.
By Sandra Mara.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
Two people believed to have been eyewitnesses to the incident in which in which Mr Barron died gave statements to the Carty Inquiry.
Meanwhile, the way has been cleared by the High Court for the McBrearty family to take an action to compel Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne to investigate allegations of garda perjury by members of the Donegal force.
The eventual cost to the State in relation to the Donegal saga is expected to run into millions.
(END of ‘In The Name Of The Law’ ; NEXT – ‘No Right Of Appeal’, from the same source.)
‘IRA NOT A SECRET SOCIETY.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
In January, 1934, a little booklet containing the constitution of the Irish Republican Army was published.
In a foreword to that publication, the Army Council stated – “The enemies of the Republic have long represented Óglaigh na h-Éireann as being a ‘secret society’, while in fact there never was any secrecy as to its aims and objects or as to the control of the organisation. As will be seen, the control and leadership are elected on the most democratic methods…”
The booklet was promptly banned by De Valera’s government and people were thus prevented from learning the truth about the Army. The result is that even to this day, many people still believe that the Army is a secret society. The objects of the Army as set out in the constitution are –
(1) To guard the honour and uphold the sovereignty and unity of the Republic of Ireland.
(2) To establish and uphold a lawful government in sole and absolute control of the Republic.
(3) To secure and defend civil and religious liberty and equal rights and equal opportunities for all citizens.
(4) To promote the revival of the Irish language as the everyday language of the people, and to promote the development of the best mental and physical characteristics of our race.
The means by which Óglaigh na h-Éireann shall endeavour to achieve its objects are –
(1) Force of arms.
(2) Organising, training and equipping the manhood of Ireland as an efficient military force.
(3) Assisting, as directed by the Army Authority, all organisations working for the same objects.
(The ‘Republic of Ireland’ as in the 32-County Republic, not the 26-County Free State entity.)
(END of ‘IRA Not A Secret Society’ ; NEXT – ‘Our Stewardship’, from the same source.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.