Stena Line workers to vote on strike action
CIARA O'BRIEN - Irish Times
Ferry passengers may face disruption after Siptu said today it would ballot members at Stena Line for industrial action over compulsory redundancies.
The union warned that sailings on the Irish Sea were facing severe disruption this month over the company’s plans for drastic cutbacks.
But the company tonight sought to assure customers that all Stena sailings would continue to operate as normal.
“Under a procedural agreement with Siptu, no type of industrial action can be taken until the outstanding matter has been referred to the LRC,” a spokesman said.
“The company is now referring the proposals to the LRC and we expect Siptu to abide by the agreement and attend also,” he added.
Sailings between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead were cut to one per day from mid-February.
The union has accused management at the ferry company of provoked the dispute by reneging on agreement reached in the Labour Relations Commission in August 2007.
“We had agreed that in the event of further downsizing at Dun Laoghaire the company would facilitate the transfer of staff on existing conditions to its Dublin Port operation," Siptu branch organiser Owen Reidy said today.
“Anticipating such a downsizing we wrote to the company last December 2008 reiterating the importance of honouring the agreement. We did not even receive a response. Regrettably, when we met with them on March 12th, they stated that the agreement did not mean what it said, that they would not honour it and they threatened compulsory redundancies."
Mr Reidy said Stena Line appeared to be using the current economic uncertainty to treat staff in an "appallingly cavalier manner", and warned severe disruption to travel was inevitable unless the firm recommitted itself to the agreement.
"We are concerned that the company’s commitment to Dún Laoghaire is lukewarm at best and that they would flagrantly abuse an agreement that was specifically reached to cater for the situation we now find ourselves in. We cannot allow Stena to abuse its staff in this way," he said.
However, the company said it was willing to go back to the labour relations Commission to resolve the matter and denied it had reneged on the previous agreement.
"That agreement would have been contingent on there being jobs in Dublin, and there aren't," a spokesman for Stena Line said.