Unions’ response to Brexit

European and British trade unions will work closely during the Brexit process to defend the interests and rights of workers across the continent.  That was the message from The  European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) General Secretary Luca Visentini, who said “we will fight to make certain that workers’ interests, both in the UK and in Europe, are not damaged by Brexit – and to ensure that trade unions are involved in the negotiations.”

He warned: “It is very likely that political and business elites will try to keep all the advantages that come from the EU for themselves, while doing all they can to weaken social protection and workers’ rights.”

On the Brexit negotiations, Visentini will say “We have been assured by the President of the European Commission that the ETUC will be properly consulted, and we expect the British government to do the same with the TUC.”

The GSU will also call at the ICTU level for trade unions,  particaurlly those with members in the Food and Drink Sector, to be consulted by the Government in relation to any aspect of the Brexit negotiations which could impact on workers’ rights.

GSU General Secretary, John Dunne, said: “It is important that the GSU maintains its strong links with the ICTU and through it the ETUC as the Brexit process continues. This situation demonstrates the importance of national and international links for the GSU now and into the future.”

Diageo European Forum

The GSU as the biggest trade union representing Diageo Guinness staff in Ireland and is represented on the Diageo European Forum (DEF).  The DEF has a major consultative role between the staff and senior management of the company at European Level. The DEF meets annually and also has a steering committee which meets more often and as required. The next series of  meetings  is on from the 30th November to the 2nd December.

The GSU and the ICTU

The GSU is affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). The Union is currently represented at the ICTU Private Sector Committee and the ICTU Global Solidarity Committee.

The ICTU is holding its biennual conference in Belfast in April 2017. The GSU is entitled to put forward one motion to the conference. If any member has a particular issue which they think the Union should bring to the ICTU conference please talk to your representative on the Executive or send an email to the GSU.

Previously the Union had motions passed at conference on women’s rights, zero hours contracts and precarious work.

There are 830,000 people in membership of ICTU affiliated trade unions in the North and South of Ireland. Membership of trade unions is beginning to rise again , there is a very good reason for that, people in Unions are better off than those workers not organised. The Central Statics Office (CSO) National Employment Survey has shown that unionised workers consistently enjoy better pay and working conditions than those not in a union.

Remembers many employers are also members of unions such as IBEC and the Small Firms Association.

Departure of Angela Ryan

Members will over the years have been welcomed into the GSU office at 107 James Street by Angela Ryan.

Angela was the face of the Union for many years and had a deep understanding of its ethos . She was on secondement from Diageo to the Union. As a result of company changes Angela has departed from employment with Diageo and the GSU. On behalf of the Executive and members of the GSU we want to wish Angela well in the future.

Tax saver public transport tickets

The company operates a public transport/bus ticket tax saver scheme as part of its flex benefits package. One anomaly that has been highlighted is that members can only join the scheme once per year and the number of companies on the list of providers is limited. The company have committed to addressing these issues and the Union expects that improvements in the administration of the scheme will be announced as a result of our representations.

Parental Leave

Following the enactment of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016, fathers now qualify for two week paid parental leave. The scheme is administered by the Department of Social Protection. The allowance is for €280 per week to the maximum of two weeks.

Diageo staff are generally entitled to one week’s paid leave at their current rate of pay. The GSU has written to the company seeking to have this paternity leave increased to two weeks in line with the new legislation. Members will be kept informed of how this claim is progressing.