Kildare South Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl has called on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Jobs to explain what action is being taken to address the crisis at Dunnes Stores.

Deputy Ó Fearghaíl raised the Dunnes dispute on Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this week, describing as ‘unacceptable’ the treatment of workers at the country’s largest indigenous retailer.

The Kildare TD said, “The retail sector supports considerable employment in many communities, particularly outside Dublin.  Dunnes Stores is our largest indigenous retailer with 107 stores nationwide, employing about 5,000 people.  Many of those are in part-time, temporary employment or on zero hours contracts. They have absolutely no security when it comes to hours or pay from week to week.

“The uncertainty around zero-hour contracts prevents people from getting mortgages, entering rental agreements and being able to make financial commitments. It’s an extremely precarious position to put any worker in. Many Dunnes workers have found they are unable to build a life for themselves and their families as they’ve no guarantees on hours and pay, and no way of planning for the future.

“The workers have engaged with the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) but Dunnes Stores has refused to engage.  I want to know what the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton intend to do about this unacceptable situation?  At the very least, the employers must be encouraged to enter negotiations at the LRC.

“It is simply not acceptable that in this day and age, a company with the reputation of Dunnes Stores refuses to sit down with the union representing its workers. The public look to Dunnes Stores as our major national retailer.  It does not set a very good example for other retailers if this is how Dunnes Stores is allowed to behave.

“I am calling on Minister Bruton to engage with management at Dunnes as a matter of urgency.  It is in everyone’s interest that this dispute is resolved in a fair and comprehensive way. This zero-hour situation should be rectified so that people do not go on strike on 2 April losing the very small money that they can ill afford to lose.”