Company accused of intimidation tactics
December 2nd: Unite members at insurance giant Irish Life have voted to hold two one-day strikes. These will take place on December 17th and January 20th. The dispute has been ongoing since the beginning of November, when four two-hour stoppages were held, and centres on the company’s unilateral imposition of a new pay model and refusal to attend the Labour Court in respect of all its workers. Unite represents nearly 1,200 Irish Life workers in Dublin and Dundalk. A ballot of Unite members at Extraordinary General Meetings in both locations earlier this week returned a two-thirds result in favour of escalated strike action.
Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Maeve Brehony said:
“The company’s intransigence has forced an escalation in this dispute. Our members have worked to make Irish Life the respected and profitable company it is today, and they are not prepared to accept a situation where management unilaterally imposes a new pay model while deciding that it will negotiate collectively with some workers but not with others.
“Their intransigence has been compounded by what seems to be a coordinated strategy of intimidation during the past month. In addition to a flurry of management emails and attempts to substitute so-called focus groups for collective negotiation, Unite is especially concerned by management threats, prior to our general meetings, to the effect that – if members voted to escalate action – they would maintain sales targets resulting in non-payment of sales-related pay, and would also withhold attendance payments from some of the company’s lower-paid workers – payments which our members rely on to bring them closer to the Living Wage. These threats are in addition to docking pay for strike days, which is normal practice.
“Many of our members have worked in Irish Life for thirty years and more, and they never thought they would be out on the streets seeking respect and equality of treatment from their employer.
“The fact that ballots in Dublin and Dundalk returned a two-thirds vote in favour of one-day strikes before and after Christmas is indicative of our members’ determination, and intimidation tactics will only serve to further entrench this dispute.
“It is up to Irish Life management to resolve this dispute by coming to the table and negotiating in respect of all its workers, rather than imposing unilateral dictats”, Maeve Brehony concluded.