Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shopsteward, Jim Wyse, Begins Hunger Stike at Green Isle Foods

Our island has a tragic history of hunger strikes and once more an individual feels he has no other way to get his voice heard by those in power than to refuse to eat food. Le's hope this dispute is resolved quickly. The below piece is taken from the ICTU website


Jim Wyse, the TEEU shopsteward at Green Isle Foods, began his hunger strike at the company's Naas plant at noon today (Feb 17) in protest at management's refusal to accept Labour Court proposals to settle the six months long dispute.

"I don't mind what I have to do to resolve this", he said, "but I do mind how it is affecting my family. They are supportive but they are angry as well that it has come to this. They've put up with six months of hardship, as have the other families involved. Now they are facing into this as well."

Asked how long he thought he would be on the protest, he said, "I'm not expecting a quick result. The history of this dispute so far is that the company will drag things out again".

He said he appreciated the efforts local TD Bernard Durkan had made over the past few days to assist by contacting the company and the strikers, "but we're not getting our hopes up". His wife Anne and daughter Rebecca were among the supporters who turned out for the start of the hunger strike. Jim will spend the hunger strike on the picket line in a caravan.

Jim's wife Anne Wyse said it was "crazy people have to resort to a hunger strike to get the company to listen to them". His daughter Rebecca said she fully supported her father in what he was doing but that she was "very, very angry he is having to take such a drastic step when the Labour Court and everybody else has offered a solution to the company".

Declan Shannon is the other shop steward in the dispute and he was not hopeful of an early breakthrough either, although he said that Bernard Durkan had met with both sides separately yesterday. His wife Ann Shannon, who was on the picket line today, said that the attitude of the company directors appeared to be that the men could stay outside forever.

"The have been outside the gate for six months now through the worst winter in 40 years and they have been here every single day", she said.

Technical Engineering and Electrical Union General Secretary Designate, Eamon Devoy, said, "The union is four square behind our members. The Labour Relations Commission, the National Implementation Body and the Labour Court have all put forward initiatives we accepted, as we did the final Labour Court recommendations but the company has shown no willingness to engage in the search for a solution."

The men are seeking the reinstatement of three colleagues who were dismissed for alleged misconduct and for the company to honour existing terms and conditions for the remainder of the strikers. The Labour Court recommended that the company either pay the men €40,000, €60,000 and €80,000 respectively for unfair dismissal or reinstate them. The company has declined to do either. Nor has it been willing to engage with the TEEU or even allow it to represent the men when they were being dismissed.

Congress granted the TEEU an All-Out picket against Green Isle Foods. Its products include Goodfellas and San Marco pizzas, Donegal Catch, a variety of savoury filled pastries, potatoes and other vegetables.


  1. This is all about his ego. This just deminishes what brave men like Bobby Sands suffered and Sinn Féin should have nothing to do with it

  2. Anon,

    Just on the point of hunger strike in ancient ireland the hunger strike was deployed by those who were wronged against their opressor.


    The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights, Martin Ferris TD, has reiterated his call on Green Isle Foods in Naas to honour the Labour Court ruling in relation to workers who were made redundant there. Deputy Ferris was reacting to reports that talks between the company and the TEEU union which represents striking workers at the plant have broken down.

    Deputy Ferris said:

    “Green Isle needs to abide by the Labour Court order that it pay improved redundancy or reinstate those workers whose sacking was the subject of the case. It must also undertake not to sack those workers who are currently on strike and who last week began a hunger strike."

    Deputy Ferris will raise the issue in the Dail this afternoon and will call to the picket line in Naas

  4. Good for Martin Ferris. Hurrah for Jim Wyse!

    Certain types of activity, even extreme sacrifice, aren't reserved for the National Question.

    For all those engaged in any important struggle, they are sometimes the only avenue to go down when all others have been blocked off.

    The fact that Jim Wyse has, in extremis, embarked on this course shows how desperate the situation has become, and how the heroic sruggles of Irish patriots and their tactics are deeply embedded in the psyche of the nation, or at least all those parts of the nation struggling for a better society.

    Well done Martin Ferris. Hurrah for Jim Wyse!

  5. Former All-Ireland Offaly footballer John Guinan will be joining fellow-Green Isle worker Jim Wyse on hunger strike outside the company's plant in Naas, Co. Kildare on Wednesday, 24 February

    Gerry Adams will be on Kildare FM [KFM] 97.6 tomorrow 24th at 10.10am supporting Green Isle strike

  6. Here is a link to a podcast from Jim Wyse just before he went on hungerstrike. Well worth a listen.