Former SIPTU Shop Steward, with a proud and long membership of Siptu. Hold's a lone protest outside Liberty Hall, Dublin, Siptu headquarters. 'They failed me, didn't adequately support me, with my dispute with employer Dublin City Council'. ''I am a father and grandfather, from Fairview, Dublin, I strongly believe in fairness for workers, and protection of workers rights. Especially Shop Stewards, who often risk their livelihoods to maintain or improve their rights and conditions for themselves and Colleagues''.
I met John, outside Liberty Hall, and when I read the boarding he had, and where he was, I had to stop and inquire. John was a very polite gentleman, affable, and likable. I asked what had happened, and he proceeded to tell me of a witch hunt, from management within Dublin City Council.
Bit of background, about John's passion and risks he took for his colleagues as a Shop Stewart. Firstly, he has been a member of union since he was only 12 years, old, and paid tuppence a week, when he first started, and something grandmother was not only proud off but always encouraged him to pay his dues, because when it comes to it, they will always stand by you.
John explained, he never received any proper training for his new position as a Shop Steward. ''Sometimes I felt out place, would I be a good Shop Steward, I often would just pick up, forms files, paper, anything to make me look like I knew what I was doing''.
Told me about a couple of situations he raised in aid of fellow colleagues. ''Once there was Afrikaans working on Port Tunnel where I was Shop Steward. I subsequent found out, they were only being paid 2-4 euro an hour. I was in shock, I decided to act, and I told my bosses at SIPTU, who, just wouldn't believe me and didn't want to know. I decided to take drastic action and do something about it. I got the lads into a van brought them to Liberty Hall, stopped the van on the main road stopping traffic, just to get attention from my bosses. On the back of that a week later, i was sent a bullet in a envelope, addressed to me via Port Tunnel, and Gilligan's name was mentioned''.
Why John is doing what he is doing, started with work being subcontracted to another company that was paying willing foreign workers at lower rates. 90 percent of the grass cutting, green areas in Dublin City, was subcontracted out for much lower rates of 5/6 euro per hour. As soon as John raised the issue, management heard, and started a campaign of intense pressure. Via freedom of information act, he subsequently found out, they had started to single him out and put pressure on colleagues to oust him as Shop Steward, also a petition was started to get him out. speaking to me you can sense his frustration anger, at such treatment from Dublin City Council, and when he turned to SIPTU, they were of no help either. suffered mental health issues on the back of his treatment, had to get counselling. Also he was on only 85 euro for a long while, and had to get help from church to feed family.
''I suffered greatly, telling you the truth, it was three years of hell. Constant bullying from management and they scared off colleagues to freeze me out. Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living, that is plague saying outside Liberty Hall rings very hollow for me now, I feel very disillusioned''.
While I was talking to John, there was some activity from withing the Building, I noticed someone take a photo of me, and one person came out, and wanted a quiet word with John, and said something about an arranged meeting tomorrow, I just acknowledged him as he went back in. When I left John , I was grabbed by another person from within building, who, try to stop me, and wanted to know what paper I was working for, I just said I had to go I couldn't talk, which seem to worrying him as I was walking away, and he said just give me your number so we can reply, I didn't stop and kept walking away.