Sacked Dunnes Stores worker Karen Gearon has brought her case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

In 1984 Mary Manning, a Dunnes Stores worker in the Henry Street store and member of trade union IDATU, refused to handle South African goods as a gesture of solidarity with South Africans suffering under the country’s system of apartheid.  She was suspended, and nine of her colleagues walked out of the shop in support of her, starting a strike which lasted two years and nine months.  

The strike ended in April 1987 when the Irish government banned the import of South African goods. 
One of the strikers, Karen Gearon, returned to work in the Henry Street supermarket in April last year when the strike ended.  In May she was sacked from her position as checkout operator, with Dunnes citing poor performance as the reason.  

Today Karen Gearon presented her case for compensation to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and faced Dunnes Stores management once more.  The Tribunal heard that she had received verbal and written warnings about the standard of her work, but had failed to improve.  Dunnes also said that one of Karen’s fellow strikers Mary Manning had also received a written warning regarding her work, but that her performance had improved.

Karen Gearon’s union representative also told the Tribunal about some of the conditions faced by staff in the Henry Street branch of Dunnes Stores, 

Workers complained that it was sometimes so cold that that’d had to put plastic bags around their feet to keep warm while working at the checkouts.

The Tribunal has now been adjourned for three weeks. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 June 1988.  The reporter is Brian O’Connell.