Ireland: BATU (Building and Allied Trades’ Union) suspended from Dublin Trades’ Council for anti-union activities

Striking workers win support

Workers at BATU (Building and Allied Trades’ Union) have been on strike, since May 2008, following the forced redundancy (announced on May Day) of two union officials, without criteria or negotiations, and following the threat of imposed pay cuts and detrimental changes to conditions of office staff. After over 9 months on the picket line and having endured both assault and imprisonment, at the hands of the union’s leadership, the strikers today (28 January) won the support of Dublin City Trades’ Council, which moved to suspend BATU from membership. The following is a statement issued by the BATU strike committee following the decision.

Striking BATU staff today welcomed the decision by the Dublin Trades Council to suspend the Building and Allied Trades’ Union (BATU) from membership of the Council. At its meeting last night delegates of the Dublin Trades Council voted to suspend the Building and Allied Trades’ Union pending a second vote to take place in two weeks time which will call for its expulsion for anti-trade union practices.

The vote, which was put to delegates last night, followed the unanimous vote on the Executive of the Trades Council to expel, not suspend, the construction union, which is at the centre of a bitter nine and a half month dispute with six of its staff. Trades Council members stated that BATU, in its behaviour and treatment of the six strikers, had acted in a worse manner than the most anti-union employer they had ever encountered.

BATU Strikers Shop steward and Unite member Tom Fitzgerald said today "We are hugely heartened by the decision of the Trades Council to suspend BATU and we hope that they will decide at their next meeting to proceed with expelling BATU. We are standing here today, as usual, in the freezing cold on the picket line, but we finally feel that the broader trade union movement are now taking notice.

He went on to say: "We think it’s crucial now that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) follow suit. Under its present leadership, BATU is a stain on the trade union movement. The only way to remove this stain is to remove BATU from ICTU. BATU’s presence in ICTU denies carpenters and bricklayers the right to the effective trade union organisation that they need in these difficult economic times. Suspending BATU from ICTU would allow carpenters and bricklayers the choice between a struggle to reclaim BATU, to work out an alternative way to provide genuine trade union representation to all construction workers".

Statement issued by the batu strike committee

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January 2009