Carrick-on-Suir service station shop workers are striking over trade union recognition, pay and conditions 

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Carrick-on-Suir service station workers are striking over trade union recognition, pay and conditions 

Striking workers at O'Sullivan's Applegreen and Centra Service Station at Ballylynch, Carrick-on-Suir on the picket line today (Thursday, December 10). Picture courtesy of Mandate trade union.

Ten workers at a large Carrick-on-Suir service station store are staging a one-day strike today (Thursday) over the failure of their employer to engage with their trade union in relation to their pay and working conditions.

The official strike picket by Mandate union members in a dispute over trade union recognition, pay and conditions at O'Sullivan's Applegreen/Centra Service Station shop and deli at Ballylynch, Carrick-on-Suir began at 5am today and will continue until 11pm.

Mandate has warned the industrial action will escalate if the company continues to refuse to engage with the union, which is representing 10 staff members working at the Pill Road based service station. It's understood there is a 46-strong workforce at O'Sullivan's Centra.

The Nationalist visited the strike picket this morning. The workers manning the picket line were greeted with honking horns of support from many passing drivers and messages of support from passing pedestrians. Most vehicles that approached the service station to use the shop or get petrol or diesel drove on rather than pass the picket.

Mandate Divisional Organiser Betty Dillon, who is representing the workers in the dispute, said their members are greatly heartened by the public support they are receiving on the picket line.

She outlined that a number of months ago staff members at the service station decided they wanted to join Mandate as they wanted the union to represent them to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment such as pay, sick pay and rosters.

Ms Dillon outlined that Mandate approached the company in early October and informed it that staff, who were members of the union, were seeking discussions on their terms and conditions. She said the owner has refused to engage with Mandate despite all the union's efforts to engage with him by letter, email and phone.

She said the union's members were left with no option but to take strike action. The union served notice of strike action ahead of the statutory seven-day notice period but it was ignored. “This isn't anything that anyone wants to do but we have been left with no other choice.”

Ms Dillon pointed out many of the workers striking today have given years of loyal service at the service station. 

“These workers have worked on the frontline all through the Covid-19 pandemic and still are. It's very disappointing that he has decided to take this approach. This is 2020 and just because staff join a union the sky is not going to fall in.”

Ms Dillon said this dispute could be resolved very quickly by the owner picking up the phone and engaging with Mandate. “He hasn't even heard what the workers are looking for,” she added. 

The company, meanwhile, issued a statement through Edelman PR, stating it preferred to deal directly with staff rather than with a third party.
 “We respect people’s right to join representative organisations but we are a small family business with 5 full-time colleagues and 41 part-time staff, and our position as a store has always been that we deal directly with colleagues, rather than a third party,” said the company.

“Given the small size of our business, we have found that this is the best way to engage with colleagues,” the statement concluded.