Davenport Hotel workers win minimum-wage victory

Five housekeepers at a well-known Dublin hotel have scored a victory over management after their minimum wage salaries were cut.

Five housekeepers at a well-known Dublin hotel have scored a victory over management after their minimum wage salaries were cut.

The five low-paid staff at the Davenport Hotel refused to sign up to the reductions and with union backing took management to the Labour Court after being taken off the payroll.

It recommended that workers Grazyma Ziemer from Poland, and Regina Balciuniene and her mother-in-law Ingrida, Jolita Valusiene and Raisa Jonaitiene from Lithuania be reinstated and pay rates restored.

Pat Ward, Siptu organiser, said the recommendation was a vindication of the courageous stand taken by the workers, who picketed their workplace for several days in February.

“The five women displayed real courage in resisting severe pressure from their employer to take a cut in their minimum wage level.

“Hopefully, their success will serve to demonstrate to other employers of similar disposition the resolve of our members and of this union to protect and defend the interests of low-paid workers."

It is believed another 40 workers signed up to the cuts.

The Fine Gael-Labour coalition has vowed to restore the minimum wage to €8.65 – one of the highest in Europe.

The Davenport claimed it had to cut the wages of the lowest paid in order to sustain jobs.

The workers have been at the Davenport cleaning rooms, corridors and changing linen for up to six years.

Siobhan O’Donoghue, director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, commended the bravery and heroism of the workers.

“Already struggling on the minimum wage to make ends meet, these women took enormous risks to their own and their family’s livelihood to stand up for what was right. If that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is,” she said.

“We hope that the action of these brave women will inspire other workers, Irish and migrant alike, to make similar stands to protect their wages and to discourage employers from taking advantage of them in this way.”

Sally Anne Kinahan, Congress assistant general secretary, said it was appropriate on the eve of International Women’s Day.

“The five Davenport staff are to be warmly and heartily congratulated for their brave stand. It sends a clear message to workers all across the economy, especially those in lower-paid employment – your best protection lies in joining a union,” she said.

Congress said the workers learnt their wages could not be cut only thanks to an awareness campaign it organised.

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