Des Derwin

The Dunnes Strike & Managing Change - the two souls of the trade union

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For three weeks, in June-July 1995, nearly 6,000 mostly young and part-time workers struck against Ireland's largest private sector employer, the firmly anti-union Dunnes Stores, over Sunday trading, zero-hours contracts, the proportion of full-time jobs and other issues. But the principal, and unstated, issues were probably union recognition and the organisation of the newly emergent semi-casual, part-time, young (and mainly female) section of the labour force. The result, while disappointing on the concrete 'economic' issues, was generally greeted as something of a breakthrough on the latter 'political' issues.

Union activists are facing new management attacks but the trade union leadership speaks only of partnership with the bosses. Des Derwin, member of the Executive of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and of the Dublin Private Sector Regional Executive Committee of SIPTU gives his personal view on the two souls of the unions. 

Alan MacSimoin remembered by Des Derwin

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In recent years I saw less of Alan than in previous years. Yet I regularly bumped into him and it was always an enthusiastic and humourous short reunion.  That’s because like many here Alan was involved in every campaign of the day But Alan seemed to be involved in  all the minor as well as the major campaigns. And going right back, and without a gap or a letup over five decades. And he remembered it all. And in detail!

[This is the speech Des Derwin delivered at Alan MacSimoin's wake]

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