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Protest march in support of Green Isle hunger strikers

by Frank Schnittger Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 07:42:13 AM EST

The above is a short interview with the hunger strikers, Jim Wyse and John Guinan, at the protest march against Green Isle foods yesterday.  They are currently in their 12th. and 5th. days on hunger strike in protest at the unfair dismissal of their colleagues in Green Isle Foods.  A third hunger striker is due to join them on Wednesday.

For those who wish to know more about the background to the dispute, please see Irish engineer on hunger strike in support of dismissed colleagues and  Week 2 of Hunger Strike.

Mainstream media reports that 300/400 people attended the march are rather wide of the mark: the true figure was closer to 1,000.  Speakers included Jack O'Connor, the President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, who pledged the support of 840,000 Irish Trade Union members and promised to seek to enlist the support of 7 Million UK Trade Union members as well.

Media coverage focused on the scandalous, defamatory, and scurrilous Company claims that the strikers had downloaded pornography.  In fact they had no internet access and had only received some e-mails from an anonymous source. Belatedly their Union is now talking about taking legal action to halt those slanders, but such legal actions are prohibitively expensive in the Irish legal system and really only affordable by well funded corporate bodies.

The real reason for their dismissal is that they had accessed some sensitive corporate files which the Company had inadvertently made available to them. Remarkably, the manager leading the media offensive against them is JJ Ryan who had line management responsibility for the IT and audit functions directly responsible for the lack of security on corporate management information systems and the lack of firewalls and spam filters on the corporate e-mail system.

front-paged by afew

I also conducted a short interview with Joe Higgins, MEP for Dublin and leader of the Socialist Party. I will add futher videos as they are uploaded to the internet - a process which seems to be taking a huge amount of time on my allegedly broadband connection!

Eamon Devoy, General Secretary TEEU, outlines the background to hunger strike to the assembled marchers. He is followed on the platform by John Guinan, one of the hunger strikers:

Most of the media coverage is leading on the Company slanders that the men downloaded "hard core porn" despite the fact that the Labour Court considered that evidence and ruled that the men had been unfairly dismissed and should be reinstated.  Remarkably, both major daily papers are using the same PA report for their coverage.

300 join Green Isle march - National News, Breaking News - Independent.ie

Around 300 people have marched from the outskirts of Naas town to the nearby Green Isle Foods plant in support of workers protesting at the dismissal of staff.

Members of the Technical, Engineering & Electrical Union have been picketing outside the plant for the past six months, and two of the workers are on hunger strike.

The company said the dispute centres on the downloading of extreme adult material onto at least three staff members' computers, resulting in workers being sacked.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions President Jack O'Connor addressed protesters and claimed the company, which makes frozen food, was not prepared to observe the ruling of the state-run Labour Court which he said held with the men.

"There are 840,000 people on the island of Ireland who are members of trade unions. We have an obligation to ensure that by this day week (next Saturday) each and every one of them knows what was done...so that they are informed of that in exercising their preferences when shopping for their family," he added.

Last December the Labour Court ruled that the dismissals were unjustified and said its normal approach would be to recommend the workers' reinstatement.

The TEEU - which accepts that two workers were sent this material in e-mail form - denied the material was downloaded. Instead the spokesman said it was an unsolicited email sent from an anonymous source.

Shop steward Jim Wyse is now in his eleventh day on hunger strike and John Guinan, a former Offaly All-Ireland footballer, is in his fourth day on hunger strike. A third TEEU member will join the hunger strike next Wednesday if the dispute is not resolved in the meantime.

A spokesman for Green Isle said the hunger strikes were "unhelpful". "The company is keen to reiterate that this issue relates to hardcore pornography and defending the download of over 700 pornographic images and movies that included sexual torture, sexual assault and bestiality," he said.

"In any civilised society, and in any company, this is categorised as gross misconduct, and the employees involved were subsequently dismissed.  We cannot give any concession which would risk the safety at work of our employees or suggest that we tolerate such material. We stand firmly by our decision."

Listen to a 6 minutes clip at http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0228/thisweek_av.html?2709708,null,209

The Company is still trying to shift the focus from their own lack of security and firewalls on sensitive corporate files. At least the company is starting to admit it was e-mail not downloading. Who was responsible for the e-mail firewall/spam filters?  JJ Ryan, the guy being interviewed had direct line responsibility.  The company has never issued a report on the alleged e-mails.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 28th, 2010 at 03:32:36 PM EST
Green Isle talks resume as hunger striker enters 13th day - The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 01, 2010

TALKS ARE expected to resume today in a bid to resolve the increasingly bitter dispute at Green Isle Foods in Naas, Co Kildare, in which two men are now on hunger strike.

About 400 people took part in a demonstration outside the plant on Saturday afternoon in support of three workers dismissed from the food production plant last summer and 10 colleagues who have been on strike ever since.

It is understood that new proposals under consideration involve payment of compensation for loss of employment.

Local Kildare TDs Bernard Durkan and Jack Wall have been acting as mediators in the dispute.

The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) says the dispute at the company is over the unfair dismissal of three workers and about union recognition.

It maintains that the sackings were linked to an earlier incident in which a private management file on cutbacks was sent in error to an employee who shared the material with colleagues.

However, Green Isle Foods has said the dismissals were not linked to the issue of the confidential data, but rather related to breaches of its IT and copyright policies.

The company has said that following an external examination of its IT systems arising from the incident over the confidential data, it discovered that a number of engineers had received multiple e-mails from a common external source containing extreme adult material.

He said the material had been downloaded and stored on their personal computer space and in some cases forwarded to other staff.

The company has said that in other cases, staff had downloaded games and movies in breach of copyright policy.

TEEU shop steward Jim Wyse is now in his 13th day on hunger strike, while former Offaly footballer John Guinan joined the protest last week. A third worker is scheduled to begin a hunger strike on Wednesday.

The Labour Court has found the dismissals were unjustified. It recommended the immediate return to work of the TEEU members, no victimisation and compensation for the three dismissed men totalling €180,000 if the company was not prepared to re-employ them.

TEEU general secretary Eamon Devoy last night called on Green Isle Foods to engage in meaningful negotiations. He said it was "time to end its negative campaigning against its own employees".

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 04:59:04 AM EST

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 11:10:02 AM EST
Thank you for keeping us updated on this important story.

There is not much to add or discuss, so do not take the lack of comments for lack of interest.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 11:52:22 AM EST
Many thanks.  Talks today from 2.30pm.  No word of any progress yet but all the picketers were away when I swung past at 8.00pm - possibly at the negotiations - which would be a good sign.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 03:42:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Northern Foods has massively underperformed the market since January. The "really important people" who trade shares big time must have heard there's trouble brewing in Ireland. This is the sort of stat that really gets noticed in the Boardroom - they couldn't care less about human rights or even lives - but the share price going down - that really sucks!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 1st, 2010 at 04:01:41 PM EST
The story below has now been removed from the Irish Independent site - possibly because of a threat of legal action on behalf of the strikers...

Gardai given porn images at centre of Green Isle row - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie

GARDAI have been given copies of almost 700 pornographic images at the centre of a row between Green Isle foods and a union, which has resulted in a six-month picket outside the company's offices.

Yesterday a company spokesman confirmed that a file had been given to gardai in Naas, Co Kildare, containing the images, which were allegedly sent last year and which, it claims, forced it to fire three workers.


Admitting that the images were not illegal, the spokesman said they "had no place in the workplace".

"I understand that gardai have asked to look at them," the Green Isle spokesman said.

"The company's position is whether it's legal or otherwise, it has no place in the workplace, which is why it took the decision six months ago to dismiss these workers.

"There was a formal request last Friday by gardai and images were handed over to local gardai in Naas. These images came in over a period of two years. All 700 images came from one point, before being stored and sent on the system to other people internally and externally."

The discovery of the images in the firm's computer system led to three workers being dismissed and the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) placing a picket on the firm's plant. It claims the three were unfairly dismissed and a decision from the Labour Court means the company must reinstate them or offer compensation of €180,000.

But the company says, as a non-union business, it is not obliged to engage with the Labour Court. Yesterday a spokesman said that informal talks would continue today, but that the workers would not be re-employed.

"The company took the decision to sack people over a particular issue," the spokesman said. "The Labour Court was not appropriate because it's not a collective issue and Green Isle is not unionised.

"The company still wants this resolved as soon as possible and it can only be resolved around mediation. The three individuals that the company took a decision to sack will not be coming back."


TEEU shop steward Jim Wyse and former Offaly footballer John Guinan are on hunger strike in protest at the dismissal of their three colleagues.

Some 400 people marched to the plant on Saturday to support the three workers who lost their jobs, but the company says the dispute will only be resolved through the independent mediation currently underway.

The TEEU says the dispute is over what they claim to be the unfair dismissal of the workers and the rights of workers to have union representation, and not about inappropriate emails.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 06:28:57 PM EST
If the company had any clue at all they'd realise that handing over images is legally meaningless.

You can't prosecute for possession of porn, illegal file downloads, or off colour jokes without a forensic investigation to prove that any accused party is personally and directly responsible for collecting and having the files on their hard disk.

That means making a forensic copy of at least one hard drive, and may mean cloning a computer/server in its entirety. Otherwise anyone, including management, may have been responsible for the files.

This sounds like a ploy by idiots to try to put legal pressure on the strikers. Unfortunately the idiots are too stupid to realise that this simply makes them look idiotic.

Of course if they have Gardai support they may get away with it - but that's a different issue.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 06:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see it as a purely PR stunt to try and move the public agenda towards the issue of pornography and away from the Labour Court finding and corporate responsibility for anyu images found.  

I have seen a detailed company report on the circumstances which led to the engineers being inadvertently given access to confidential corporate data.  As far as I can see no corporate report on the existence of pornography was ever done - much less a forensic examination of how and when it got there.

This was purely a case of !"we want to get rid of these guys, lets see can we find some dirt on them". Nothing in all of this would stand up to forensic examination.  But that is not the point.  Its a PR battle.  

In my view the Company could be sued for huge sums for defamation because they have not provided any evidence to back up their accusations.  The workstations the men worked on were in open access areas and where often used by people other than the person who was logged in - so there is no way the company could prove who did what.  The fileserver didn't even have auditing functionality turned on.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 06:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
In my view the Company could be sued for huge sums for defamation

And wouldn't that be fun to watch in a case like this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 07:55:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this, Frank!  It's encouraging to hear workers still unite here and there.  


In Poz-town we have two workers up on a 40m construction crane since February 1, which is the most socially shocking event all 84,000 residents have ever witnessed, even after a full year of city hall corruption scandals, an indicted and resigned mayor, a riot and attempted assault to a police station during the local festivities, an indicted councilwoman/disappeared-with-pay and two more on the ramp, etc.

The city hall pp-overlords are having fits because there is no reorganization that will save their hides for next year's election, while the party machine ignores them.  Their PR is brutal and includes pseudo-NGO press subsidized with local-public funds, but their incompetence/corruption has crossed the line of clear-out-stoopid.  The PSOE would need an army legal staff to file the cases.  

We are protesting at the site everyday since then, from 16-1700 in full view of city hall and the workers beating on metal fencing/the crane have reached a Koto drummers rhythm that makes everyone bounce.  I'm about to wear out an old, UK, stainless whistle: the acme  thunderer....  

Energizing! and much more sociable than a gym, even in cold and wet weather, although the old square may not be finished in years.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:27:40 PM EST
Protesting dismissal/redundancy?  The Spanish and Irish construction industries seem to have gone into freefall almost in tandem.  A recent study found 20% - 340,000 Irish dwellings uninhabited - unsold, unrented, unwanted - side by side with a public housing shortfall...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:12:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The town wanted to remodel the old main square, adding an underground bus station and parking, awarded the contract to a JV with Ploder Uicesa and it has missed completion last July?  

As of November, the work stopped and faked activity by running some loud machinery and a few workers, then the subs stopped getting paid and now Ploder has filed for bankruptcy.  In the meantime the stoopid town, well aware of the problems, has paid them €3.5 million and the subs still have not gotten paid.

Ploder Uicesa has also failed to perform on a government highway project (contract rescinded) and Cordoba's airport, but they refuse to give up this contract! with a 30-year franchise of the parking facility.  Now they claim they 'cannot work because the strikers are a threat'.

The strikers are from a small, family run sub owed €140K, that have lost their jobs and are being joined by other subs.  The town has already spent more than that on police and private security (7 at a time) to protect a hole in the ground, several unusable streets and to avoid any others going up.  

The 2nd worker went up Feb. 8, while the guards slept, in mid-Feb the first one came down for the birth of his child and a third worker, with the help of 5 men that sneaked in to help, also went up a week ago.  Unfortunately around the middle of February they cut off their electricity and are living in a tent up there, but they are well fed, well covered and harnessed for the strong winds, when they are not dancing, banging and berating the mayor. They are also well conected with rotating cell phones.

Unfortunately, not one major union has shown up!!!!, but I hear they even have a hidden camera that got past police inspection of a salad.  (;

It's a no-win situation, but they choose to stay and it has created a surprising social unity of old locals, merchants and other workers, mostly immigrants, which has never happened here before, so authoritarian heads are exploding.  

Here there are signs that banks are holding a worrying stock of houses, but they refuse to rent them even with government support programs.  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 07:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The pre-diluvian, neolib biz paper, 'Expansión', gave the banks' strategy away today:  They refuse to rent the residential properties for fear of losing their legal base as 'administrators' to become mere 'creditors'!!!  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Tue Mar 9th, 2010 at 04:36:21 PM EST
Would receiving rental income not outweigh any change in legal status?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 12th, 2010 at 12:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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