Monday 16 March 2020

Union expresses deep regret at failure of Dunnes Stores, Lloyds Pharmacy and vintners’ bodies to engage over employee protection issues

Mandate seeking creativity and flexibility from employers on rostering due to closure of schools and childcare settings

The Mandate Trade Union has today welcomed the co-operative approach from the vast majority of retail employers on protecting workers’ health and safety in the context of the Corona virus crisis. However, the union has expressed deep regret at the failure of Dunnes Stores, Lloyds Pharmacy and the vintners’ organisations to engage with the union on their staff’s behalf.

Gerry Light, Mandate’s Assistant General Secretary, said that the situation relating to COVID 19 is escalating at an unpredictable and rapid pace and retail workers are very much in the frontline of trying to ensure that our families and communities continue to function as normally as possible during this crisis.

“Since confirmation of the first diagnosis of the Corona virus here in the Republic of Ireland, Mandate wrote to all major retailers on 3 March last requesting the implementation of best practice to ensure that retail workers are afforded the maximum levels of protection when it comes to their health and safety.

“We welcome the fact that the vast majority of employers in the sector responded in a speedy fashion providing the assurances we sought for retail workers and agreed to keep the union and its members appraised of developments as they occur. Indeed, some employers have gone beyond their statutory and contractual obligations, such as Tesco Ireland, and we would urge all retailers to follow their example.

“Regrettably two companies, Dunnes Stores and Lloyds Pharmacy, have not responded to our 3 March communication. This has resulted in us writing to them again expressing our disbelief that they have failed to engage with their workers’ representatives about this global health crisis and its obvious implications for their staff.”

Gerry Light explained that Mandate Trade Union also wrote to the two main licensed trade representative bodies, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland to engage with them on health and safety issues for bar workers.

“As of today, we have not received any response from either organisation and this is deeply regrettable. We have now written again to the two vintners’ organisations and we would urge them to engage with us so we can together ensure the health and safety of their staff. Their behaviour – and that of Dunnes Stores and Lloyds Pharmacy does little to reflect the spirit of the national all-inclusive collaborative effort currently underway.”

Gerry Light concluded by explaining that yesterday’s decision to close all schools and childcare settings will have a considerable impact on retail workers.

“Clearly yesterday’s Government decision will have a significant impact on a sizable proportion of retail workers. Because of this, we have now written to all retail employers asking them to be as creative and flexible as possible in responding to the challenges facing their employees at this time in terms of how they approach their rostering of work.”