Workers in Argos in the Republic of Ireland were set for their third 24-hour strike today (Tuesday) in a dispute that has seen Argos management flying in scabs from England to try and break the strike.
The workers are demanding a rise of just 0.90 euros per hour. Some two thirds of its workers in Ireland are on 9.07 euros an hour – just a fraction above the Irish minimum wage of 8.65 euros an hour and well below pay levels of staff in similar jobs for other retail chains.
Annette is an Argos worker in Dublin and a shop steward in the Mandate union. 'Many of our long-term workers are lone parents and ordinary people trying to bring up families and pay mortgages,' she said.
Argos can easily afford to pay decent wages. It opened three stores in Ireland in 1996 and now has 31 stores nationwide. Its sales revenues in 2006 exceeded 8.1 billion euros and its profits are up 50 percent in the first half of this year.
But Argos management is only willing to negotiate with long-term workers who represent only 6 percent of the workforce. They negotiated directly with all workers up until two years ago, when they decided to step outside negotiations with no prior warning.
During the first strike Argos flew in scabs – both management and shopfloor workers – from Argos in England. The scabs were brought into the Dublin and Limerick branches to keep stores open.
We should boycott Argos in both Ireland and Britain this Christmas in support of fair pay for Argos workers.