The whole crew, immigrants and natives, stopped their work spontaneously, when managers issued a new work schedule that reduced their break time.
It is estimated that there are over 50,000 Polish workers in Ireland. Many of them decided to bring their families and settle after they found stability there. But some Polish immigrants have been voicing increasing dissatisfaction with work conditions.
Musgrave is a big Irish corporation. It owns Centra and Supervalu in the Republic of Ireland, Londis and Budgens in Great Britain, as well as other networks in Spain.
In the Dublin warehouse, where the strike started, immigrants (mainly from Poland) make up around 50% of the workforce. They are officially employed by work agencies and ?rented? to Musgrave. Their work conditions are worse than those of other employees, their pay is lower and they haven?t any rights. Week after week, the situation worsens according to the information of the Independent Media Center Network.
Agency workers were expected to work four hours without break, while contract workers took breaks hourly.
When one of the agency workers was fired because he couldn?t find a pallet with the product he was to distribute, that was too much for the immigrants. They had had enough of the unfair segregation practices.
At 19:00 on April 27 the strike broke out. Polish crew stopped work and gathered in the lunchroom. Moments later, Irish workers joined them, loudly voicing their support of the strike.
Musgrave management, together with the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) which represents Irish workers, tried to convince striking workers to return to work.
The legality of the strike was questioned and workers were threatened with job loss.
It had earlier been agreed among the workers in the lunchroom that a common fight to consolidate the position of the labor union and raise the standards of working conditions was mutually beneficial.
The strike ended after midnight the next day. However, if agency workers fail to receive equal rights and employment conditions, the protest will be renewed in May.
About two weeks before the strike, the Polish branch of the Independent Workers Union prepared a special report on discrimination and exploitation in Musgrave (Supervalu — Centra) warehouses.
The aim of the report was to determine the level of discrimination and exploitation of agency workers, to highlight the negative affects of deregulation on workers in the European job market.
The Independent Workers Union hopes that the Irish Musgrave case will inspire workers everywhere to take direct action when necessary to safeguard their rights and interests.