Embassy workers to meet to discuss job cuts dispute

Workers at the British Embassy in Dublin will meet today to discuss plans to escalate the bitter dispute over job cuts.

Workers at the British Embassy in Dublin will meet today to discuss plans to escalate the bitter dispute over job cuts.

Trade union Unite said there would be a general meeting of staff at 1pm to discuss their next move.

Yesterday it emerged the union's general secretary Derek Simpson had written to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to personally intervene in the row, which centres on compulsory redundancies.

Around 40 workers held a one-day strike last week as the controversy worsened with protests at ambassador David Reddaway's residence and at the embassy gates.

Workers voted to strike a fortnight ago after three Irish employees in the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) section were given letters warning they faced compulsory redundancy.

Despite 40 employees walking out on Thursday the embassy maintained it was business as usual.

Trade and industry staff, passport section workers, administration officials and household staff from the ambassador's residence took part in the picket, but were prevented from speaking out as they are bound by the UK Official Secrets Act.

An embassy spokesman has said there is no alternative but to cut the jobs.

It is understood informal approaches have been made to union leaders to attend the Labour Court to resolve the row after the embassy rejected calls to use the Labour Relations Commission (LRC).

The spokesman said UKTI division had been forced into changes around the world to focus on emerging markets and insisted the job cuts had already been made.

Both the embassy and Unite have insisted they remain open for talks but the union will only sit down if industrial relations troubleshooters are brought in, while the embassy said negotiations would be limited to redundancy packages.

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