Workers at the Instant Upright company based in CityWest in Dublin are locked, like the Debenhams’ workers, in a battle with their employer. Billy Flynn reports from the picket line.
There are fifteen workers in all on strike who are taking shifts of two to ensure there is no attempt by company to move equipment. All floor staff are members of the Connect Union but many office staff are not unionised.
The company’s difficulties began last December. The workers reported that 2019 had been a bumper year but as they were winding up for Christmas some were laid off. The company then started bringing in agency workers for busy times on lower pay. The union managed to win better pay for agency staff; however, they don’t have the same conditions as full time workers VHI benefit etc.
The company is global and staff were aware of new factory in Latvia but were surprised and angered when, under the cover of the Covid Lockdown, the company tried to move machinery and equipment to Latvia.
The workers blocked this by engaging with the truck drivers, explaining the situation and that they were a unionised workplace. The truck drivers agreed not to move equipment. This is a great example of working class solidarity and demonstrates the importance of tactics on appealing to workers’ class consciousness.
The striking workers are now facing disciplinary action. The workers who’d protested have all been called for individual zoom meetings with managers accused of obstruction. No workers will attend meetings. They see through it as an attempt to bully workers individually. They have a strong understanding of the strength of collective action.
They also have an understanding of their worth to the company as wealth creators. In their words: the boss creams off the money we make. The boss in question of Australian Millionaire Rik Stowe who spends most of his time in Monaco. His business is global and is considered a recluse. The workers said he’s in an out of the offices in Citywest all the time.
While it’s a small strike it is with a global company. The workers believe that the last thing Stowe would want is bad PR. With that in mind some solidarity messages from workers and trade unionists around the world could be helpful. They have set up a Facebook page and would greatly appreciate any messages of support. They were due to go back to work post lockdown on June 8 th , and are now waiting to see what happens.
Like Debenhams strike, this is an example of how neo-liberal capitalists will not hesitate to use the pandemic to attack their workers’ to maximise profit. CWI Ireland offer our full solidarity and support to the Instant Upright workers and Connect.