Workers’ rights need to be addressed, warns IHREC

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is warning that workers’ rights in Ireland need to be addressed.

In a report to the Council of Europe, the IHREC said it is concerned about inadequate protections for workers, discriminatory policies that affect disabled employees and the prevalence of discrimination and sexual harassment in the labour market.

The commission said the failure to acknowledge the social and economic value of care work, mainly provided by women, has led to low pay and conditions.

The report highlights that trade unions have no legislative right to be recognised in the workplace for collective bargaining purposes.

It also finds that the Government has not yet accepted several provisions of the Revised European Social Charter, a binding human rights treaty that Ireland ratified in 2000.

These include the rights of employed mothers to sufficient time off to breastfeed, the rights of workers to be consulted on decisions which affect their employment and responsibilities linked to childcare and housing.

The IHREC is calling on the Government to protect economic, social and cultural rights in Irish domestic law by incorporating them at a constitutional level.

“No one should suffer discrimination due to their economic or social situation, yet we see this happen daily throughout the country,” said Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

“It is vital that the State steps up and delivers on its commitments to all people working to earn a living,” she added.

Dunnes workers lodge life-changing pay claim


Dunnes Stores workers today lodged a pay claim with the company seeking significant pay increases, additional annual leave days, improvements to the staff discount scheme and the creation of full-time jobs.

Citing increased living costs and the positive contribution of staff to the business during the pandemic, the workers say they should be rewarded fairly for the work they do.

“Workers all over the country are struggling right now, yet many employers, like Dunnes Stores, are capable of paying higher wages and improving conditions of employment. Those that can pay, should pay,” said Patrick Killeen, Dunnes worker from Mayo and member of Mandate Trade Union’s Dunnes National Committee.

“What we want is a brand new pay scale for all Dunnes Stores workers which provides a decent standard of living and rewards us for our loyalty and experience,” added Killeen.

If successful, this new pay scale would provide those on the lowest point of the pay scale with a 7.7 percent hourly pay increase and those on the top with 7.9 percent increase.

“We believe this is reasonable given inflation is currently running at more than 9 percent,” said Killeen.

Mandate’s National Coordinator Lorraine O’Brien explained:

“There are multiple pay scales in Dunnes Stores where some workers are on higher wages than others for doing the exact same job. We want to harmonise the pay and benefits for all Dunnes workers but we want to ensure pay equality is done in a way that brings the lowest earners up to the top.”


Service Rate of pay Annual Leave
 Year 1  €13.30ph  21 Days
 Year 2  €14.00ph  22 Days
 Year 3  €14.75ph  23 Days
 Year 4  €15.50ph  24 Days
 Year 5  €16.25ph  25 Days
Year 6  €17.75ph 25 Days
Year 10  €19.75ph 25 Days

The pay claim has been formed following extensive consultation with Dunnes workers, including a survey of more than 1600 staff.

Some of the key results include:

  • 92% said if hours become available they should be offered to existing staff first.
  • Nine out of ten workers agreed that additional annual leave should be provided.
  • 87% said understaffing is an issue in their store.
  • 79% say all workers should have access to the same incremental pay scale.
  • When asked whether they felt they were being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve 65% said no, and only one in five said yes.
  • 51% of post-2007 staff said they want to work additional hours.

“The allocation of hours and understaffing are serious concerns for Dunnes workers. Many of us want to work longer hours because we can’t pay our bills, but the company won’t allow us, choosing to either understaff stores, which leads to huge pressure on staff, which in turn leads to health and safety concerns, or else they hire more workers on lower rates of pay,” said Alex Homits, Dunnes worker and Mandate activist from Dublin.

The workers are also seeking changes to the sick pay scheme.

Alex explained: “We’re still in the midst of a pandemic which has changed how we should look at things like sick pay. Dunnes workers and tens of thousands of other shop workers risked their lives and their health over the last two years and the least we should get is a decent sick pay scheme.”

He added: “Right now thousands of workers are forced to come to work with illnesses because of financial necessity. That’s not good for the worker, their families or our customers who often pick up the illnesses we have. We want an 8 week paid sick pay scheme and all staff should have access to this after their 6 month probation.”

Another item on the Dunnes workers’ pay claim is fully paid maternity and paternity leave.

“With the cost of energy, rents, house prices and everything else going up so much in recent months, it is impossible to survive without fully paid maternity leave. If workers don’t have enough income when on maternity or paternity leave, not only do they suffer, but their children suffer too,” said Liz Loftus, Dunnes worker from Dublin and Mandate activist.


A national meeting open to all Dunnes Stores workers will take place online on Tuesday August 23rd at 8pm for 1 hour. The purpose of the meeting is to outline the results of our recent Dunnes workers survey and to give a briefing on your new pay and benefits claim which Mandate has lodged with the company on behalf of our members. If you wish to attend please input your details below to register.


1. Fair Pay & Annual Leave

Create one equal pay scale for all Dunnes workers with access to top point after 10 year’s service. Additional annual leave entitlements based on service with the company.

 Service Rate of pay Annual Leave
 Year 1  €13.30ph  21 Days
 Year 2  €14.00ph  22 Days
 Year 3  €14.75ph  23 Days
 Year 4  €15.50ph  24 Days
 Year 5  €16.25ph  25 Days
Year 6  €17.75ph 25 Days
Year 10  €19.75ph 25 Days
  • Minimum unsocial hours rate (10pm-8am) of Time +1/2
  • Minimum public holiday rate of Time +1/2 (and an additional day’s pay

* After 25 years’ service Dunnes workers continue to receive an extra week of annual leave bringing their total to 30 days.

2. Privilege card

Remove monthly limit (€1,000) on staff discount card.

3. Sick pay

8 weeks paid sick leave and all staff to have access to sick pay after their 6 month probation.

4. Full Time Jobs & Allocation of Hours

The opportunity for Dunnes workers to obtain full time jobs. Additional hours should be offered on a fair and equitable basis to existing staff before hiring new workers.

5. Fair Scheduling

Fairer scheduling for a better work/life balance. All Dunnes workers to receive a four week roster with changes only through mutual agreement. One weekend off in every four. More flexibility from Management with day off requests. A workplace with safe and adequate staffing levels.

6.Maternity/Paternity/Parental leave/Parent’s leave

All workers to receive full pay when on Maternity and Paternity Leave. More flexibility when taking Parental Leave to enable workers to take it as separate days or weeks. More flexibility when taking Parent’s Leave, taken as separate weeks.

7. Right to Representation

Dunnes Stores management must recognise and respect their workers’ right to individual and collective representation by their Trade Union.

Mandate say Penneys restructuring must take place through agreement

Thursday 7 July 2022

Mandate Trade Union, which represents more than 5,000 workers in Penneys in Ireland, has said that any restructuring withing the company, which may include redundancies, must take place through agreement with the workers’ representatives.

Penneys announced a restructuring process on the 29th June and since then Mandate has been engaged with the company since then.

Lorraine O’Brien, Mandate National Coordinator said:

“This announcement from the company has caused enormous stress and anxiety for our members. We’ve already had a number of meetings with the members and we will ensure their voices are heard by the company.

“Any changes to conditions of employment must be done through agreement,” she added.

A series of meetings between Mandate and Penneys to discuss the proposals are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

Ms O’Brien concluded: “We will engage fully with the company and with the intention of introducing a range of options for those impacted by the restructuring, including no compulsory redundancies, redeployment where possible and a negotiated redundancy package if necessary.”

Fair Employment Bill

In what was a packed public meeting at Unite offices in Dublin City Centre last night ( Thursday 2nd) to launch the Fair Employment Bill. The main speakers outlined the proposals which in time would give workers rights through empowering Trade Unions and to enable workers to gain fair employment rights. The full meeting can be viewed here

Fair Employment Bill 2022 Launch


Radio Interview with TULF. Raidió Reibiliúnach

In this episode we chat with Jimmy Doran, Chair of the Trade Union Left Forum about proposed legislation to replace the regressive 1990 Industrial Relations Act with a new Bill entitled ‘ The Fair Employment Bill 2022’ . The new bill will give back the freedoms tradeunionists had prior to 1990. We urge all workers to support this Bill. The Bill will be launched tomorrow night in the Unite the Union Office in Middle Abbey Street Dublin. The Interview took place on the 1st June.
Presented by Danny Coffey
Produced by Denise O’Toole

Trade Union Left Forum. Launch Fair Employment Act

An act to restore the cost of living and civil society remits of trade unions, to legislate for a trade union right to access to members and workers in the workplace, to legislate for trade union right to be heard in negotiations on behalf of members where collective bargaining is recognised,  and related maters.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:



Interview about The Industrial Relations Act and why it should be abolished.

This interview took place on Thursday 26th May with the Irish Language Station Raidió na Life with a Unite The Union activist. Click on this link

MLSA Industrial Action Enters Second Week

Issued by the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA)
Industrial Action Week 2
Monday May 23, 2022.
Medical Scientists to Step Up Industrial Action
Two days of Action to be taken by Medical Scientists this week
Medical Scientists to continue on picket lines to resolve – unfilled posts, pay parity, career
pathway and increasing demands. Medical Scientists are stepping up their industrial action this week – in frustration over long-standing
pay and career development issues. Two days of action are taking place on Tuesday May 24 and Wednesday May 25, following an initial
one day of action last week. No approach has been made by the HSE or Department of Health to the MLSA since last week’s
stoppage, despite comments from HSE representatives implying talks were ongoing.
The action will again involve the withdrawal of routine laboratory services from 8am to 8pm on both
days, affecting routine hospital and GP services across the country.

The Union representing Medical Scientists – the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) –
said it has made every effort to avoid regrettable disruption to patients and fellow healthcare workers
but has been left with no alternative.
MLSA has 2,100 members and the vast majority will be on picket lines this week, at all public
voluntary and HSE hospitals and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, which will join the pickets for the
first time. If no progress is made a further three days of action are planned for next week on May 31st
June 1st  and June 2nd.

In a ballot of MLSA members last November 98% had voted in favour of taking the
action. The action follows many rounds of unsuccessful talks with the HSE, Department of Health,
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Service Agreement Group, particularly
during the past two years.

Reasons for the Action
MLSA Chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said Medical Scientists did not want to be stepping up the action
but severe problems and burn out in the sector are being ignored by the HSE and Department of
Health – and these must be addressed.
Mr O’Boyle said the issues causing the staffing crisis in the sector are:
• Medical Scientists carry out identical work to other colleagues in hospital laboratories (Clinical
Biochemists),yet are paid on average 8% less.
• Medical Laboratory Aides who report to Medical Scientists start on a higher salary.
• Medical Scientists have fewer career progression opportunities, less training supports and
less continuous education supports than comparable colleagues.
• Against these increasing shortages, the role for laboratory diagnostics within the health
services is expanding with increasing.
“All of these issues are leading to a recruitment and retention crisis. 20% of approved hospital posts
are unfilled and it is not sustainable to continue like this. We need an effective structure for this
profession which can secure the staff needed to do the work that is required. Resolving these
issues will benefit patients and the health services they receive.”
MLSA General Secretary Terry Casey said the Union is this week continuing to seek meaningful talks
with the HSE and Department of Health.

“Since last week’s action neither the HSE nor the Department of Health have come to us with a
meaningful proposal or invitation to talks that could address the issues involved. It because of this that
Members throughout the country are stepping up the action.
“The MLSA’s claim for parity with clinical biochemist colleagues dates back to 2001 when an Expert
Group Report recommended pay parity between the grades. The then awarded pay parity was lost
within months as a result of procedural error in the public service benchmarking awards in June

“In January 2020, against a backdrop of a severe and worsening staffing crisis, the MLSA renewed
this longstanding claim for parity of pay and career progression. More than two years on, and after
many rounds of proposals and talks, these issues have not been resolved and there is now an even
more significant shortage of Medical Scientists, affecting all regions of the country.”
Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA)
The MLSA is the Trade Union representing Medical Scientists, the scientific professionals who carry
out critical diagnostic testing of patient samples. It represents more than 2,100 Medical Scientists
employed in public voluntary hospitals, HSE hospitals, private hospitals and the Irish Blood
Transfusion Service.

Trade Union Left Forum 20/05/2022 Statement:

At the last Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) biennial delegate conference on 26/9/21 a motion proposed
by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) was unanimously passed calling for legislation to be enacted to
return all rights lost by workers as result of restrictions imposed under the 1990 industrial relations act. Since
then, very little has happened to progress this legislation.

The Trade Left Forum (TULF) have stepped up to this challenge to draft a bill for legislation that would repair
some of the damage done by years of anti-Union legislation in Ireland.

TULF have now drafted a bill entitled the "Fair Employment Act 2022" and will launch it on Thursday June 2nd
in Unite the Union’s Hall in middle Abbey Street Dublin at 6 p.m. There will be a power point presentation of
the draft bill and an outline of the effects of existing anti-union legislation on workers.This will be followed by Q & A.

The bill covers the right to union access to workers, collective bargaining rights, removes obligatory 7-day
strike notice, returns union autonomy on secret ballots, protects the rights of individual workers, expands the
reasons for industrial action beyond trade disputes to the aims of the Ictu.

Motion passed at congress:

“Conference recognises that the restrictions on trade union action in the 1990 Industrial Relations Act need to
be opposed, and that the Act should be reformed to restore rights which trade unions had before 1990.
Conference mandates the executive to seek an alternative legislative regime which would allow trade union
and industrial action for individual workers, for issues that concern workers across society and across
employers, and for effective solidarity to workers in dispute.

The TULF are calling for the ICTU. to launch a national campaign, in conjunction with affiliated unions
and trades councils, to seek the support of the Government, political parties, Dáil deputies, senators,
local authorities and wider society to amend existing legislation and to introduce the Fair Employment
Bill 2022, which will be the first step to starting the process to tip the balance of power back to

Jimmy Doran
Tulf Chair/PRO

Index News


Slow pace of social dialogue undermining cost-of-living crisis response

The absence of agreement between unions, Government and employer representatives on practical measures to expand the range of free and affordable public services is undermining the national response to Ireland’s cost of living crisis, according to Fórsa.

Speaking at the 80,000-strong union’s national conference in Killarney today (Thursday), Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said Ireland should resist a return to the “poor quality” social dialogue in place prior to the pandemic, during which more intense engagements shaped and delivered workplace safety protocols and emergency income supports.

He called for intensified dialogue to improve Ireland’s ‘social wage,’ or state spending on welfare supports and public services. He also called for the national minimum wage to be increased to the rate of the higher living wage.

The lack of an adequate social wage was placing all the emphasis on pay as a means of protecting living standards.


“We are at a crossroads. The cost-of-living crisis demands more than a talking shop if living standards are to be protected. With the World Bank predicting that energy and commodity prices will remain ‘historically high’ until 2024, the value of Irish social dialogue will be measured by outcomes, not the number of meetings scheduled.

“Workers in countries across the continent are paying more for heating, fuel and food. But in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and most other rich EU nations, workers don’t have to fret about the cost of childcare, an unavoidable visit to the GP or A&E, eldercare fees, or even the rent – because these things are free or affordable through a public service-delivered social wage,” he said.

Kevin said the lack of an adequate social wage was placing all the emphasis on pay as a means of protecting living standards.

Moving a motion from the union’s National Executive, which placed the “restoration and improvement of living standards above all other issues in the current round of pay bargaining in the public service and elsewhere,” Mr Callinan said Fórsa would pursue this with a “single-minded determination.”

He said he didn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge in the run-up to imminent public service pay talks. But he added that there was now a solid basis for substantial negotiations as the employers’ side had acknowledged that the inflation assumptions underpinning Building Momentum have changed significantly.

“Workers, their families, and their communities are the victims of inflation, not the cause of inflation. I have made it clear that there needs to be an improvement in the agreement’s pay terms this year,” he said.

In a formal meeting last Wednesday (11th May), Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) negotiators also accepted that a change to the current agreement’s pay terms would be discussed in substantive talks, and also wanted to achieve some certainty about next year’s public service pay bill before October’s Budget.

Kevin acknowledged that the current Government had established a Social Dialogue Unit in the Department of the Taoiseach, and that the Labour Employer Economic Forum – the country’s primary forum for high-level social dialogue – had been elevated with the Taoiseach himself chairing each of the quarterly plenary meetings.

There is now a chance to commence the process of transformational change.


“I have long been calling for quick and meaningful action on the social wage, which measures how much better off you are because of Government spending on welfare supports and public services. In Ireland it is very low by comparison to other modern European countries.

“Part of the reason is the relatively low rate of employer PRSI. But it’s also because of long-term failure to properly resource public services. Sometimes ideology gets in the way, like marketized childcare, privatised care of older people or two-tier healthcare.

“These things won’t be rectified overnight. But there is now a chance to commence the process of transformational change. But we need to start the job with urgency and rigour, and achieve early and tangible results, because Ireland’s low social wage is feeding directly into today’s cost of living crisis.

“Let’s be very clear – if this opportunity is spurned or squandered then the blame for declining living standards will rest squarely on the shoulders of this Government,” he said.

Kevin also called for stronger collective bargaining rights to improve wages and productivity and underpin better outcomes for society and the economy.

“Ireland is out of step with European levels of collective bargaining coverage and he last 40 years have seen a huge shift in the balance between capital and labour. Globalisation has ensured that the proportion of wealth going to an elite has reached obscene levels – often of a magnitude beyond normal comprehension. The only way that this will be arrested and reversed is if we build workers’ power,” he said.

Fórsa is Ireland’s largest public service union with over 80,000 members in health, education, local government, the civil service and other State agencies. The union also has members in the community organisations and private sector companies in aviation, communication and elsewhere. Up to 700 delegates are attending its national conference in Killarney, County Kerry, its first fully in-person conference since 2018, continues until Friday 20th May at the INEC in Killarney.