Ireland: Toy workers' picket over pay

Workers at Hasbro, the toy manufacturer, mounted a lunchtime unofficial picket at the gates of their Waterford plant last week.

Submitted by Steven. on February 27, 2006

On Tuesday 21 February seventy workers, members of the SIPTU union, picketed the facility to demand a pay rise promised in the ' Sustaining Progress' talks in July 2004. Hasbro bosses have since reneged on the deal, insisting that staff must relinquish their seniority before receiving the rises.

Hasbro denounced the picket, saying “We have no comment to make on unofficial action, which is highly regrettable and foolish in the current economic climate.”

Paul Dunne, spokesman for the disgruntled employees told local paper the Waterford News and Star that he was aware of the difficulties Hasbro Ireland and other companies were facing from low cost third world countries, but nonetheless a standard of living must be maintained for Irish workers.

“Otherwise they will in the system and already some people are looking at the situation where they would be better off unemployed and receiving social welfare,” he said.

He disclosed that SIPTU members within the company had not received their Sustaining Progress wage rise since July, 2004. “Other union members, members of staff and supervisory members of staff have received it without any conditions, but the company is saying to us that we have to give three conditions before we receive it.

“They want breaks staggered and machines kept running through breaks. They also want a change in the shift pattern on the evening shift, which would mean that 25 hours work done over five days would, in future, be done in four days.

“The biggest issue, however, is a company proposal to break seniority for the SIPTU workforce but that proposal is being strongly resisted. This is a major issue. At the end of the day people have their seniority, they have their job placements within the workforce and they received that and their payment on their seniority basis and on their ability to do the job and breaking that is a huge issue.

“We have got no elements of Sustaining Progress since July 04. The company is saying we have to give the three commitments before we get it and the bitter pill is that we know others have got it without any savings.” Paul Dunne added.

Asked if there was a division within the plant, he said that other unions would support them.

He also said that workers were considering indefinite stoppage if their demands were not met: “A vote was taken for industrial action up to and including all-out strike action but that still remained an issue to be decided by the committee when the time arose.”

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