Super rich try to slash wage at Davenport hotel - Labour court to make ruling


Some 300,000 workers in Ireland should be watching the Labour Court as it rules on the attempt by the Davenport Hotel, owned by the 122nd richest person in the country, to cut the wages of workers by almost a euro an hour. Five workers there were removed from the payroll after they refused to sign new contracts that contained the wage cut. When they picketed the hotel it got an injunction that sought to limit how many could picket at a time and which forbid supporters from the picket line.

In a further attempt to undermine the effectiveness of the picket litter wardens were ordered "from the top" to threaten picketers with prosecution for littering if they did not remove posters about their dispute they had attached to lamp posts. The pickets reported that the wardens were very apologetic when passing on these threats.

The Davenport is owned along with the the nearby Mont Clare by Persian Properties, controlled by businessman, Noel O’Callaghan. He also owns the nearby Alexander Hotel and O’Callaghan Stephens Green Hotel as well as hotels in the US and Malta. The Independent estimates the wealth of this stud farm owner at 70 million euro making him the 122nd richest person in the country, and very much part of the ruling 1% whose front organization IBEC drove the bosses demand for a cut in the minimum wage.

The hotel is trying cut the pay of these women to 7.79 an hour meaning it would take them 4320 years to earn O'Callaghan's wealth providing they didn't have to pay tax and could live off air. That is not their reality, one of them Grazyma Liemen, from Poland, told Liberty that: “It was a very big shock being told our wages were being cut. It is really hard work and after I pay rent, childcare and food, there is nothing left.”

O’Callaghan is well connected to the 1%, he is Michael O’Leary uncle and the brother-in-law of Treasury Holdings property developer Johnny Ronan. But he doesn't rely on family connections alone, he is known to make donations to Fianna Fail and in 2003 the Irish Examiner reported that the Standards in Public Office Commission had revealed he had made a 6,250 donation to Fianna Fail. Liberty revealed that like many of the 1% he backs both horses and so has also donated to Fine Gael and that "The O’Callaghan Hotel Group received huge tax subsidies from Fianna Fáil led Governments writing off virtually all capital costs against tax."

The 1% super rich have already managed to drive down wages in the public sector through their control of the government parties and many private sector workers have also seen wage cuts. But the Davenport struggle is part of an attempt to drive down remaining wages by revising the Registered Employment Agreements which controls the minimum wage payable to some 300,000 workers in Ireland. The response of SIPTU to seek a binding Labour court resolution of the dispute is taking a big risk if the ruling goes against these workers. The obvious question is why SIPTU did not instead use its hundreds of thousands of members to take on O'Callaghan directly, sending a clear message that workers in Ireland will not pay for the crisis.

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