MAKING THEIR POINT Pictured are the large crowd who attended the organised SIPTU march for the Tim Hastings Volkswagen garage workers on Bridge Street in Westport. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Edwin McGreal and Anton McNulty
A large crowd of supporters gathered in Westport on Saturday last for a rally for striking workers from Tim Hastings Volkswagen garage in the town.
They have been on strike since Friday, February 3 in a dispute over redundancies and compromise in the dispute appears as far away as ever.
The Labour Court recommended ex-gratia redundancy payments, on top of statutory payments, be made to three workers who were made redundant from the garage in 2016.
However, when asked by The Mayo News last week about the possibility of negotiations, John Maher, manager at the garage, said the money to pay more than statutory redundancy to the workers was not there.
“Where the money that the union is looking for us to pay former employees is going to come from is beyond us,” Mr Maher said.
Last week, SIPTU Organiser Ashling Dunne told The Mayo News that ‘our members will remain indefinitely on strike until the full terms of the Labour Court recommendations are implemented’.
That stance certainly has not softened. One of the three workers, Paul Durcan, addressed last Saturday’s rally at The Octagon.
“Monday morning we will be on the picket line at 8.30am. There’s no stopping us,” he said.
Mr Durcan and his two colleagues, Johnny McDonnell and Gerry Kirby, had a combined service at the garage of 65 years prior to being made redundant last year.
“On February 3 we stood on the picket line with five other colleagues and I have to thank them for showing such loyalty,” he said.
“We are overwhelmed with the support. We are eight people. We feel like 800 people. Every day ye bring us stuff, every day ye amaze us,” he said of the local support they have received.
SIPTU President Jack O’Connor also addressed the rally while trade union members from all over Ireland travelled to support the rally. The workers and their supporters marched from the NCT Centre on the Lodge Road into Westport town centre, finishing at The Octagon.
At yesterday’s (Monday) monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, some of the striking workers were in attendance and Westport-based Cllr Christy Hyland called for talks to reopen.
“I urge all sides to sit down and talk to each other. At the end of the day, talking will have to take place. This is not about taking sides but in an other part of this island people realised they had to sit down and talk to each other and I appeal for everyone to sit down and talk. If they sit down and talk, progress will be made,” said Cllr Hyland.
As the Cathaoirleach of the West Mayo Municipal District, Cllr Brendan Mulroy said he would be happy to facilitate both sides in coming up with a compromise to end the dispute.