by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 24th, 2010 at 04:23:24 PM EST
Jim Wyse (on the right above) is now in the second week of his hunger strike and has now been joined by a second hunger striker: John Guinan (Left above), another Green Isle Foods engineer and a member of the Offaly team which won the All-Ireland in 1982 and prevented Kerry winning five Gaelic Football All-Irelands in a row.
The dispute is now getting more and more coverage on national radio stations and newspapers with the focus shifting from the initial management contention that "adult material" was allegedly found in e-mail in-boxes of some employees - to what the strikers claim is the real reasons for the dispute - the accidental release by management of confidential information to some employees and the failure of the Company to accept the Labour Court Recommendation for resolving the dispute.
Former All-Ireland winning footballer goes on hunger strike - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie
The pair and colleagues have been picketing the company's Naas plant for the past six months over claims a number of staff were dismissed when a confidential file with restructuring proposals was mistakenly sent to an employee who shared the information with co-workers.
The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) said that like 58-year-old Wyse - who is now entering his second week on hunger strike - Guinan was not one of the men dismissed last July.
However it maintained the men were taking action in a bid to get the Kildare-based company to come up with an acceptable deal.
Green Isle Foods, which is a division of the British multinational Northern Foods, has agreed to enter talks with the union although no agreement has been made between the parties.
"The union welcomes the company's agreement to engage in talks but Jim Wyse and his colleagues will continue with the hunger strike protest until an acceptable settlement can be reached," said a union spokesman.
Meanwhile a rally organised by the Kildare Council of Trade Unions in support of the strikers will go ahead as planned this Saturday.
Meanwhile, the local paper has this to say:
Family of Green Isle hunger striker express their anger at the ongoing stalemate - Kildare Today
Speaking to the Leinster Leader earlier this week, Anthony and Jim's daughter Rebecca agreed that the hunger striker felt he had no choice but to take his drastic action. The situation is especially worrying for the Wyse family as Jim's son Jamie, also a worker at Green Isle, is on the picket line with his father. Neither of the Wyses, or John Guinan, who will join the hunger strike today, Wednesday February 24, were part of the group originally fired by Green Isle last summer.
Jim broke the news of the hunger strike to his family on the evening of Sunday, February 14, three days before he began his action.
"When he explained what he had to do, we had no choice but to support him," said Anthony, who had the job of telling their brothers and sisters about the hunger strike.
Rebecca said that, when her father told her that the strike was about to escalate into a hunger strike, she was shocked, but understood the reasons for it.
"If they did not do something, they were just going to leave them there walking up and down," she said.
But she never thought that the strike would last over a week. "I thought that it was going to be resolved quickly," she said. "I get more angry every day."
She worries for her 58-year-old father's health, especially after he has already spent months walking up and down a picket line and is now sleeping in a small caravan on the site of the picket.
The effect of a lack of food on the human body differs from person to person. Some may be fine for three to four weeks, while others become seriously ill after two weeks.
"Every day (of this hunger strike] is a day lost, and possibly more damage being done to this man's health," said Anthony.
Anthony said that his brother, who was one of the initiators of the hunger strike action, took on himself the responsibility of being the first man to fast.
"Jim has always been a pillar in our family, if you are under pressure, Jim is the person to go to," he said, noting that his brother is a natural leader.
He said that the family's reaction to the news "very quickly turned to anger" at the unions and company that the dispute was allowed to descend into a hunger strike before action was taken.
Anthony also said that he is disappointed with the lack of a public statement from the company on the dispute and the hunger strike. He says that, when the non-binding Labour Court recommendation was issued before Christmas, that there should have been immediate talks between the union and the company on the issue.
The Wyse family is also worried about the Green Isle situation setting a precedent of hunger striking as part of an industrial action, something that belongs in times gone past.
Having felt no-ill effects (apart from hunger pangs) in the first week, Jim is now suffering from some tiredness, weakness and loss of memory. Those who want to register their support can do so at a Facebook group his daughter has set up in his support. A Campaign to boycott Goodfellas Pizzas (a Green Isle product) has also been started on Facebook.