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SIPTU hotel workers in battle to defend minimum wage*

category dublin | worker & community struggles and protests | press release author Thursday February 17, 2011 17:21author by pat c Report this post to the editors

SIPTU members at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin mounted pickets this morning after being taken off the roster for refusing to sign new contracts reducing their national minimum wage rate by almost €1 an hour. When the legislation was being passed, the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, gave assurances that existing employees of companies on €8.65 an hour could not have it reduced without their consent. However, the workers concerned, all women from Eastern Europe, have been brought into three meetings over the past three weeks and repeatedly told they must sign the new contracts or face being taken off the roster. They were not given a copy of the new contract, either in English or in their own languages.

*For further information contact:
*SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Ward; 087 228 348
*Padraig Yeates, PYE Communications; 087 260 5297

The women, who are from Lithuania and Poland and have worked at the
Davenport Hotel for between four and six years, refused to sign the new
contracts on 1st February when the new legislation came into force and have
been removed from the payroll ever since. SIPTU served strike notice on the
hotel on 9th February over the hotel’s decision which it regards as an
effective lockout.

Although the dispute involves only five people it has implications for over
300,000 workers affected by the new National Minimum Wage legislation and
related rates of pay in the hotels, contract cleaning, security and other
low pay sectors.

SIPTU Vice President Patricia King said; “These workers were brought to a
series of meetings where they were told they must agree to accept a
reduction in pay from €8.65 an hour to €7.79 to ‘support the Government’. If
they refused to do so they would be taken off the roster.”

“The other workers, the vast majority of whom are migrant workers, signed
the new contracts. Like the five women they were not given translations of
the document or copies. I think it showed incredible courage by these women
to take the stand they did,” Patricia King said.

“As far as I am aware, this is the first occasion on which the new law has
been tested in the industrial relations arena. The stakes are very high.
Every employer in low wage sectors of the economy will be watching this
dispute. If these workers are effectively locked out of their jobs and
penalised for seeking to defend their right to the €8.65 rate it will signal
a new race to the bottom.”

SIPTU sectoral organiser, Pat Ward, added; “This is bad for workers, bad for
decent employers, including many hoteliers who treat their workers decently
and negotiate change with us, as well as for the wider society because it
will suck even more money out of the economy and reduce living standards
across the board.”

“It means that the assurances given by Brian Lenihan last November that
existing employees would not be forced to sign new low pay contracts were
meaningless, as SIPTU and other unions predicted at the time. Fine Gael is
threatening to introduce even more draconian measures to undermine minimum
rates of pay set by Employment Regulation Orders in other low paid
industries.”

The Davenport Hotel is part of the O’Callaghan Hotel Group owned by Persian
Properties and property developer, Noel O’Callaghan, who has been a regular
financial contributor to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the years. The Group
owns three other hotels in Dublin, the Alexander Hotel, the Mont Clare and
O’Callaghan Stephen’s Green. It also owns hotels in Gibraltar and in
Annapolis, Maryland, USA and is currently building a new hotel in Warsaw,
Poland for €21 million.

*For further information contact:***

* *

*SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Ward; 087 228 348*

* *

*Padraig Yeates, PYE Communications; 087 260 5297***

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Please support the Davenport 5     Jim Larkin    Sun Feb 20, 2011 18:21 
   St Patricks festival receives sponsorship from Davenport Hotel     Jim Larkin    Mon Feb 21, 2011 17:06 
   Support the Davenport Hotel Workers     RiseUp    Tue Feb 22, 2011 07:31 


 
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