Dunnes Stores has been told its practice of informing staff of transfers to different stores by phone does not conform to good industrial relations.
An Irish Employment Appeals Tribunal delivered the advice when awarding E7,500 compensation to a store manager. Margaret O’Kane, who had been with Dunnes for 20 years, had taken parental leave from the Limerick store.
But as she prepared to return, the area manager phoned to say she was to report to a different store as the number-three checkout supervisor. She was shocked by the news and quit.
The tribunal acknowledged that the company later tried to retrieve the situation, but ruled that O’Kane’s decision to resign was justified. There had been a breakdown of trust between O’Kane and her employer as a result of the phone call, it said, and added: “The policy of transferring an employee from one store to another by phone does not reflect sound industrial relations practice.”
The ruling comes on the back of a 16-hour strike by 150 staff at the Limerick store in protest over working conditions. The Mandate union’s divisional organiser, Brian Higgins, said that grievances raised with the management in February had been ignored.
Grievances included changes in working hours without consultation, late rostering, complaints about sick leave, inadequate heating and a lack of chairs at checkouts.
Mandate general secretary John Douglas warned that the Limerick protest could be extended to other outlets if the situation was not resolved.
Dunnes declined to comment, but talks at the local level are reportedly under way.