by Jacob Richards
One of the most frightening examples of a ‘race to the bottom’ has been the recent struggle of the Greyhound Bin company workers and the disgraceful treatment they have been shown by their employer’s Michael and Brian Buckley. This is a classic case of the employer trying to break a unionised workforce and tear up any shred of decent terms and conditions for their employee’s.
For those unaware of the situation, events kicked off a couple of weeks ago when workers turned up at Greyhound at 7am and were told they would have to clock in under a new system and sign a new contract outlining wage cuts of up to 35% with immediate effect. These cuts in many cases would amount to a loss of between €250 and €270 a week. By any standards this was an extortionate imposition on the workers, many of whom have families to support and mortgages to pay. When the men refused to sign these contracts they were immediately locked out of the depot and told to get their cars off the premises.
Greyhound workers have been systematically undermined by the company over the last number of years and recently made a concession to work an extra ten hours a week without extra pay. Their daily shift is ten hours with two fifteen minute breaks. Bin routes have also consistently expanded over time to the point where they can no longer be finished within the allotted ten hour day.
Greyhounds have being using an ‘agent’ who arrives at a Woodies Car Park to pick out casual labour to finish the bin routes after the regular union workers have finished their shift. Nobody knows whether this labour is even trained sufficiently or what they are being paid to finish the routes. This is hugely exploitative while also producing genuine concerns regarding Greyhounds commitment to health and safety. In some cases men have been seen collecting bins without any safety clothing and there have been at least three incidents where people have been injured and emergency services have had to be called.
Unfortunately such a situation is not entirely surprising given that those who have stringently opposed the privatisation of bin collections predicted the deterioration of the service. Bin Charges continue to rise while service standards are kept to a minimum. Maintaining profit tends to usually win out over safety concerns and the treatment of workers.
Following the issue being raised by Clare Daly and Joan Collins at Leaders Questions, the National Employment Rights Agency have agreed to investigate some of the workers concerns. The Road safety Authority and the Garda have also been called in to look at the roadworthiness of Greyhounds trucks. These are certainly positive developments. There have also been numerous messages of solidarity with the workers from the general public with many refusing to put out their Greyhound bins for collection. Around 500 people marched with the workers and their families from Liberty Hall to City Hall on Monday evening.
As things stand the workers are officially locked out of Greyhound and financial strain will surely be taking its toll on them. Ordinary people can show their support for the workers by getting in contact with the company and making their grievances known. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the owners of Greyhound. As the workers at Paris Bakery on Moore Street have shown victory over unscrupulous employes can be achieved.
To contact Greyhound and make any grievances known LoCall 1890 989 998 or leave a message on the companies page at the following link: http://greyhound.ie/contact-us/