Republican News · Thursday 24 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Aldi strikers celebrate victory

Strikers from Aldi's Parnell Street store in Dublin and their supporters gathered outside the GPO last Saturday to celebrate their victory against the German multinational.

The workers had been on strike for over 12 weeks in a bitter dispute over union recognition and the duties of retail staff. Aldi had refused to recognise the union, or to avail of the normal labour relations machinery.

It is understood that each of the workers is to receive 6,000 in compensation. While they have chosen not to return to work in Aldi, the retail chain has agreed with the worker's union MANDATE to implement dispute resolution procedures that ``both sides will have regard to in the future''.

A spokesperson for the union, Willie Hamilton, says the agreement is a ``remarkable'' move forward by Aldi, ``given that they have refused to comply with the voluntary code to date''.

It is understood that plans by European trade unionists to stage a series of protests on Aldi outlets on the continent were a factor in forcing the German retail giant to back down.

Sources close to the company have tried to downplay the significance of the agreement. They say that the reference to negotiating arrangements with unions in the agreement strating in October is a reference to anticipated labour relations legislation.

A demonstration in support of the striking retail workers had been planned last Saturday from the GPO to Aldi's Parnell Street store where the six workers had been employed. This, however, was quickly converted to a victory celebration as news of the breakthrough became known.

Tony Gregory TD addressed those present in front of the GPO and paid tribute to the Aldi workers, in what had often been ``a lonely isolated struggle''.

Rhonda Donnelly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, thanked the six strikers, Antoinette Swan, Hazel Gilligan, Noel Fallon, Joanne McGee, Ciara Ward and Marina Cirillo for making it easier for the next members to join MANDATE.

Sinn Féin Councillor Larry O Toole reminded those present it was the 10th anniversary of the Gateaux strike. ``It is very heartening to stand here today to celebrate a great victory over one of the largest retail stores in Europe,'' he said ``It reflects a commitment on the part of the workers. They had to put up with no pay, scab workers and abuse from some shoppers.''

Mick O Reilly of the ATGWU said that he hadn't heard IBEC condemning Aldi as being a sectarian or breakaway employer because of its refusal to negotiate with trade unions. ``We should learn that employers have marvelous solidarity,'' he said.

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