Mandate Trade Union members employed by TK Maxx in Arklow will strike today (7th July) following the company’s refusal to accept a Labour Court recommendation.
Mandate took a case to the Labour Court in relation to banded hour contracts, pay scales and advance notice of rosters. TK Maxx, through their trade union IBEC, informed the Court that they would not be attending or heeding the Labour Court process because they had “direct employee engagement processes in place.”
Mandate say the refusal of the company to allow their workers representation has left them with no alternative but to strike.
Arklow TK Maxx worker Cian Keogh said, “It’s very disappointing that it’s come to this. We don’t want to strike. We’d much prefer to be at work, but we want that work to to be with decent conditions of employment.”
Mr Keogh added, “We don’t understand why we cannot have the same representational rights as tens of thousands of other workers in the retail sector. We hope the public understand why we have to take this action and we hope they’ll support us.”
Mandate Trade Union’s Divisional Organiser for Wicklow Michael Meegan said:
“Once again we have a highly profitable and very successful multinational retailer refusing to engage with their workers through their representatives and ignoring the State’s industrial relations processes. This is regrettable and very frustrating for our members who have very reasonable demands.”
Mr Meegan explained that TK Maxx workers are low paid and have insecure work.
“Many of the workers on strike today earn slightly over €11 per hour after several years of service. The company makes €125 million in pre-tax profits per year and can easily afford to not only pay their staff more, but they can afford to bring in pay scales and ensure workers have certainty over their earnings by implementing secure hour contracts.”
Mandate members in TK Maxx Arklow will engage in a one day stoppage today, with the possibility of escalation after that date.
Mr Meegan said: “We have been receiving supportive phone calls and emails from other TK Maxx workers across the country and we are hopeful that those workers will join their colleagues in the fight for decent conditions of employment in TK Maxx.”
The Union had previously written to the company offering to meet “at the shortest possible notice” to discuss the issues in dispute, thereby avoiding today’s strike. TK Maxx has refused to meet with their workers’ representatives.
The Labour Court issued a recommendation in February stating:
“…the Court recommends that the Employer should recognise the Union as the representative of those employees who are in membership of the Union and should engage with it in dealing with employment related matters…”