Aldi strikers win after long struggle in Dublin


The strike at the Aldi supermarket on Dublin's Parnell Street came to an end on Friday August 18th. It marked the end of a bitter three month struggle for union recognition. There had been mass pickets, sympathy protests at Aldi shops in Letterkenny, Galway and Cork, and generous donations from members of MANDATE and other unions.

A support group (which included trade unionists from the Workers Solidarity Movement) had covered central Dublin in 'Boycott Aldi' posters, organised regular mass pickets and engaged in 'dirty shopping'. This was when supporters would enter the store, fill shopping trollies, take them to the checkout and then walk out of the shop declaring that they wouldn't give their custom to an anti-union firm. Managers were left picking up the goods and putting them back on the shelves, possibly the only real work some of them had ever done!

When the workers joined MANDATE (the union for shop and bar staff) management had responded by refusing to talk to the union. They then sacked two union workers for "poor performance" (despite having offered one of them a management job only days previously because his work was so good!) and suspended three others for refusing to clean toilets as well being cashiers.

This was an important strike. Six young workers were taking on a giant multinational which plans to open fifty stores in Ireland. During the strike Aldi advertised seeking staff on a "self-employed" basis. This means no sick pay and no holiday pay.

The strikers needed MANDATE to publicise their case to other union members and call for mass pickets big enough to close the shop. Instead they got flying visits from their own general secretary, Owen Nulty, and ICTU president Inez McCormack, who posed briefly for photos and then vanished.

Tom Kitt, junior Minister of Labour Affairs, was brought in as a 'mediator' and negotiated a deal. The five dismissals were rescinded, a voluntary severance package was agreed (none of the strikers wanted to return to work alongside the people who scabbed on them and the management who tried to break them), and references were provided. The fourth item was the agreement of " a mechanism to resolve potential further disputes, which includes the new Code of Practice on Voluntary dispute Resolution".

This means nothing. Union recognition was not won. The six young strikers showed great tenacity and militancy. People like them are the hope of the trade union movement. The overpaid careerists currently running our unions are a waste of space. If they want to be partners with the bosses let them piss off and join IBEC.

Alan MacSimóin
(ALDI strike support group - personal cap.)

This article is from Workers Solidarity 60 - September 2000

Download the PDF file of WS 60