Saturday, February 27, 2010

Diary of Jim Wyse who is on hungerstrike at the Green Isle plant in Naas.

Jim Wyse is still on hunger strike at the Green Isle plant in Naas and he has now been joined by former Offaly All Ireland footballer John Guinan. As mentioned previously Jim feels he has not alternative but to take this action.

Jim has been keeping a diary of his experience and this is being posted on the TEEU website

Below are his entries to date and I will try to put up new ones as they appear.

Also there is a Rally in support of the Green Isle workers and the TEEU have issued this statement:
We are asking you to support the rally being organised by Kildare Council of Trade Unions on Saturday, February 27th to show solidarity with Jim and his colleagues in the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union. It starts at 12 noon in the Storm Cinema car park, Naas, and will be followed by a march to the Green Isle plant.

Day 9

Green Isle Hunger Strike Diary – Day Nine

I didn’t get much sleep last night. We were up until 3 am talking to the company and I had to get up early again to go to the doctor for my check up. He said everything was okay.

He took my blood pressure, checked my heart and took some blood samples for tests. He couldn’t see anything wrong with me but is sending them away to be on the safe side.

I am down about a stone. I haven’t lost much weight over the past day or so. I think whatever was going to go fast has gone and what’s left is going to go much slower from now on.

There was a lad in from the This Week programme on RTE this morning talking about doing something for Sunday. He was going off to see the company afterwards.

There was another lad from a group of An Post workers who want to do something and are planning to come to the march tomorrow. I think a Start Labour write-in campaign is getting underway for people to contact Northern Foods, the parent company.

I hope to get the head down this afternoon and catch up on a bit of sleep.

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Day 8

Green Isle Hunger Strike Diary – Day Eight

We went back up to the Caravan after the Press Conference in Maudlins and had some press photographs taken. There were the usual visitors, family and friends to see how we were getting on.

Two lads called from my native village Coilldubh to make a video for a local history project. I was asked where Coilldubh is. It’s between Celbridge and Edenderry, and it was a Bord na Mona village built in the late 1940s. They’re good lads and very interested in what’s going on.

This morning I was okay, but in the afternoon I seemed to lose energy and there was a bit of a reaction in my stomach, a bit of nausea. I felt a bit of hunger come back as well but it went away again.
I arrived for talks with management about 1pm, but there was no one here so I went to have a nap. I actually feel better now for it.
There have been talks this evening but nothing much has happened. The company doesn’t seem in any hurry, but then they never are.

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Day 7

Green Isle Hunger Strike Diary – Day Seven

I’m starting to feel the effects of the hunger strike now to be honest. I feel a bit drowsy, woosie. They say you get highs and lows and today I woke up feeling low. I’m still feeling low now but I’ll feel better tomorrow.

A cup of hot water helps but the salt is a penance.
My body is beginning to operate in a totally different way. It may be that it is beginning to switch over to feeding off the fat reserves.

I didn’t feel I was answering questions as well as I could at the press conference today but I’m told it went well. The company is beginning to come out and try to smear us with all sorts of innuendos but we wouldn’t have been out here for six months on the picket line or gone on hunger strike if what they said was true. All we have ever asked is that act fairly. I have no problem if people are brought through a fair procedure and dismissed for misbehaving but that is not what happened.

Management also say we have no support in the factory but people coming out are stopping and chatting to us on the way home. They are afraid to join us and I don’t blame them. Some people do live in fear in there, especially those on work permits. People have mortgages to pay and loans and families to support.

I don’t know if there will be any talks before the rally on Saturday. We are available to meet them at any time.

At least I have John Guinan here to talk to tonight. I know his family will be worried now that he has joined me on hunger strike, but I also know that it will make my own family feel a little bit less anxious to know there is someone else here with me.

The only question is who gets the large bed. He’s a big fellow.

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Day 6

I've lost nearly a stone but I am feeling fairly good today. I reckon I have about another half stone to spare as far as the weight is concerned.

I slept very well last night but then I was wrecked after the ruckus the previous night and the meeting with management. That did not get very far and we've had no word back from them so far today.

John Guinan, who is joining me on hunger strike tomorrow, called by again today to have a chat and Ciaran Tyrell, a TEEU activist in Wicklow called over to see what they could do to help raise public awareness.

The other shop steward here at Green Isle Foods, Declan Shannon, says he is getting in a lot of calls offering support.
We are looking forward to the press conference in Maudlin's tomorrow to get an opportunity to put our case across. It is right beside the Storm Cinema in Naas, which is handy for any journalists who want to know where the rally is starting from on Saturday.

Some of the family and lads are worried at the rate I'm losing weight, so I might get a medical check-up on Thursday to keep their minds at rest. But they know I am here for the duration. Everything else is in the hands of Green Isle Foods and their owners in Leeds, Northern Foods. They are the ones calling the shots and it looks like it's a case of out of sight out of mind.

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Day 5

I woke up last night about 2 am. A guy who had some drink on him was pulling down some of the signs. We had a few words with him and he left, but we had to repair the signs.

It meant I didn't have a proper night's sleep before the meeting with management today.

John, who is going to be next on the hunger strike, spent the night with me. I talked to him about it and told him what to expect. I think he is psychologically ready for it. He has discussed it with his wife and is talking to the children tomorrow.

I went up to the house before the meeting with management to have a shower and tidy up. We didn't make much progress with them. We reported back to the lads and they agreed there was no basis for a settlement yet.

There were a lot of visitors to the caravan this evening by people who missed me during the day because I was at the talks.

I am really tired tonight. I should sleep well.

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Day 4

The press conference at the TEEU offices in Dublin broke up the day for me. Declan Shannon, my fellow shop steward at Green Isle Foods drove me up.

My body moved down a gear today but I still feel fine.

I told journalists I would be getting a medical check up after ten days, or when I lost more than ten per cent of my body weight; whichever comes first. But I also made it clear that whatever the outcome of the medical there was no question of me stopping my protest. That won't happen until we have a result from the talks, something we can bring back to the members.

They also asked me why I was the first member at Green Isle Foods to go on hunger strike. I told them the hunger strike was my idea and I couldn't very well come up with an idea like that and not do it myself.

We had been out six months and if we didn't do something soon everyone would have been broken eventually. That's a fact.

We knew from dealing with the company that talks alone wouldn't do it.

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Day 3

Green's Isle Hunger Strike Diary - Day Three
Last night wasn't too bad as I was at meetings until 2.30am today so I wasn't cold. At least the company is talking to us now.

I had to be up early for Newstalk but the traffic would wake you anyway. I could have done with a bit more time on the programme to explain the issues properly. I hope it was okay.
A guy came in to talk to me for about an hour this morning about the dispute. He lives locally but runs some sort of EU Blog. He says he will have to talk the company as well to get their side. He seemed very interested in our case. He said he would be putting something out shortly and that the blog goes to some key people in Europe.

I am feeling good physically but the energy seems to go very quick when I have to do anything. I am travelling up to Dublin tomorrow for the Press Conference at the TEEU offices.

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Day 2

After's a quiet start I had a busy night, meeting with management, through the good offices of Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan and Labour TD Jack Wall. Management said they mean business but after the events of the past six months I am not ending the hunger strike until we have a deal that is signed, sealed and delivered.

There are no ill effects at this stage but the craving for food has gone. I don't feel the urge to rush out any more and grab someone's bag of chips. I was told it would be like this and now that I have stopped thinking about food I can concentrate on the issues.

I have books here to read but I haven't had a chance to open them, there are so many callers and phone calls.

Kfm are calling me now. It looks like my interview with the local station is become a daily feature.

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Day 1

It's just over 24 hours since the start of the strike. I was hungry this morning and I'm even hungrier now; but it's nothing more than a lot of people put up with on a fast for charity. A burger would be nice.

There was an odd incident at start of the hunger strike yesterday afternoon. A courier arrived with four large pizzas to be paid for on delivery. Hopefully it was a one-off stunt.

A lot of people dropped by to have a chat, including two lads from Sinn Fein up from Wicklow for a meeting and some Coca Cola workers who were on strike.

There were union meetings last night until nearly midnight. At least it helped to keep my mind off food. My son Jamie stayed overnight. It took us a while to get the balance right between using the heater and the number of quilts we needed on the bed to keep warm.
We got up about 7am today.

I''m drinking water most of the time. It is fairly tasteless so I sometimes heat it on the gas ring for a change. It helps me keep warm.

I did an interview with Highland Radio this morning and a journalist called with a photographer from the Sunday Tribune to hear why I was on hunger strike.

My brothers Pat and Martin called up to see how I was getting on. My wife Anne is with me now.

Day One Over

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