Very Successful Launch of Fair Shop Campaign in Cork
Friday 15 November 2013, 04pm
Every day as consumers, we are faced with a bewildering diversity of choice about what to buy and where to shop. Major retailers spend hundreds of millions, billions even, on high-end advertising and eye-catching branding to try and persuade you, the shopper, to spend your hard-earned cash with them.
But one option we tend to overlook as shoppers is choosing to spend our money where workers count. Last week in Cork, Labour councillor Michael O'Connell helped Mandate Trade Union to launch this exciting campaign.The launch took place in the Gresham Metropole Hotel - itself designated as a 'fair hotel'. There were speeches by the Deputy Lord Mayor, John Douglas, Mandate general secretary and president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Michael Taft, Unite trade union economist. Fair Shop is designed to give you, the consumer, the option of supporting retailers that respect the rights of their employees. By shopping with Fair Shop retailers — of which there are 16 in Cork city and county —you will, in a tangible way, be highlighting the advantages to them of respecting workers and offering them a decent living income. The idea behind Fair Shop is not new, in fact, you could say its 100 years old. In the archived minutes of the 20th Annual Trades Congress held in the City Hall. Cork, in May 1913 one of the motions debated concerned
“Trades Union Shops."
According to the records, delegates T Johnson and A Doran argued for the need for unions to use the ethical buying strength of consumers to further workers' rights. We feel sure Messrs Johnson and Doran would have wholeheartedly thrown their weight behind the current Fair Shop campaign.
Nowadays, Fair Shops recognise their employees' right to negotiate through the trade union of their choice their wages, hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment. We believe these rights are fundamental and basic and well worth supporting with your spending power. One of the key objectives of Fair Shop is to support and promote quality employment in the retail sector by encouraging consumers who care about workers' rights to choose Fair Shop companies and stores. As many or us involved in trade unions will testify, very few — if any — relationships between an employer, their employees and their union is perfect. Disagreements happen from time-to-time but Fair Shop transcends the day-to-day drudgery of industrial relations and acknowledges those employers who 'do the right thing' and treat their workers with respect by negotiating with their workers' trade union of choice. And we hope Ireland's 800,000 trade union members, their families and supporting organisations will also "do the right thing." They can make an informed choice by checking out a Fair Shop in their local area - like the 16 in
Cork city and county — and by making ethical purchases on a regular basis. In recent years, there have been increasing assaults on workers" rights, pay and conditions of service by many unscrupulous employers. These employers have sought to gain an unfair advantage over those competitors who do respect their employees' entitlements.
This approach needs to be challenged across the retail sector by the spending power of thousands of ethically minded consumers. As responsible citizens, we should be making the "informed choice each time we make a retail purchase. Fair Shop not only provides the information needed by consumers to make the choice of spending money where workers count much easier, It also demonstrates to retailers the Importance of recognising the rights of workers to Join and be represented by a trade union. Our use of collective and individual consumer power has the very real potential to improve conditions for workers across the retail sector and Fair Shop provides the basic information required for you to make those ethical purchasing decisions.
Over the coming months and in the years ahead, Fair Shop will develop brand recognition and strength by working alongside Fair Shop retailers and by encouraging the country's workers and their families to shop fair
Our intention is clear, we wish to acknowledge those employers who 'do business' with their employees on Issues such as pay, decent contracts and terms and conditions and we jointly commit with these employers to support and promote quality jobs and decent work in the retail industry in Ireland.The initial reaction to the Fair Shop campaign has been fantastic: Already many Fair Shop-nominated employers, seeing the value in the initiative, have been talking to Mandate Trade Union about developing brand awareness and promoting joint actions. As an integral part and the driving force behind the Fair Shop Initiative, a website —www.fairshop.ie — has been launched. The site is compatible with all smartphone technology and is running regular Fair Shop promotions that are only accessible on the site. The campaign also has dedicated Facebook and Twitter social networking pages. The website features a list of Fair Shop employers and supporters. Importantly from a consumer's point of view, it also incorporates a Fair Shop location finder so you can find a Fair Shop locally. The site also Include the Fair Shop pledge www.fairshop.ie/Fairshop-Pledge/ and we are encouraging as many consumers where possible to take two minutes to pledge their support for the campaign and a worker's right to have a voice in their workplace by signing the pledge. Ultimately, Fair Shop is about giving the informed consumer choice and about putting workers and responsible employers first for a change. It's plain and simple.... it's about spending your money where workers count. On behalf of the Fair Shop retailers and retail workers in Cork, I'm asking for your support.