November 5th: Unite members working for insurance giant Irish Life today engaged in the first of a series of four two-hour stoppages in Dublin and Dundalk as part of their struggle to ensure equal treatment and pay security. Speaking this afternoon, Unite Regional Officer Maeve Brehony said that the “outstanding response” of Unite members to the action in the face of significant pressure from management and the dreaded November rain demonstrated their unfaltering determination to be treated fairly. Unite represents over 1,100 workers at Irish Life, and three further stoppages are scheduled from 12 noon to 2 pm on November 12th, 19th and 26th.
Explaining the background to the dispute, Ms Brehony said:
“Earlier this year, a ballot of Unite members at the company returned a 92 per cent vote in favour of industrial action in the event of the company proceeding with its plans to impose unilateral changes to pay structures without agreement.
“Irish Life has consistently refused to engage meaningfully with all staff, most recently at yesterday’s conciliation hearing which proved to be little more than a box-ticking exercise for the company.
“The new pay model being proposed by Irish Life and its Canadian parent company, GWL, breaks the link between pay and inflation, and between pay and company profits. Under this model, around three-quarters of Irish Life workers cannot look forward to pay increases for the foreseeable future.
“Notwithstanding substantial profits, Irish Life has effectively decided to exclude its workers from the company’s success.
“Rather than coming to the Labour Court and talking to all its staff, the company is pursuing a clear ‘divide and conquer’ strategy and has decided that it will talk to some workers and not to others.
“The outstanding response today to the first in a series of four stoppages clearly demonstrates the unfaltering determination of Irish Life workers to be treated fairly. It is time for the company to listen to its workers and attend the Labour Court in respect of all its staff”, Ms Brehony concluded.