Respect yourself and others will respect you. Confucius

self care

Respect yourself and others will respect you. Confucius

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Just Breathe


You are where you need to be. Just breathe

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There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness. Maria Mitchell


There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.  Maria Mitchell

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Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self. ~ May Sarton


Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self. ~ May Sarton

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Life is tough, but you must be tougher


Life is tough, but you must be tougher!

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I am currently reading Demon Barber: Interviews by Lynn Barber For My Journalism Course

I am reading this book for interviewing skills on my journalist course. It was plain sailing until the interviewing section. Interviewing is not as easy as it sounds. I can write and have great people skills and still I find this challenging. It is true not every person will be great interviewees. It seems to me the journalist needs to do a lot of research, ask clear and simple questions, shut up and listen (this the hard bit for me), endure long silences (I want to ask another question but I can not .. they are thinking ) and try and get the interviewee to go off script and ask him something he has not being asked before!!(this is hard when they often have being interviewed by many people before you) I cry when it is very sad (awkward!) but it does show I have empathy. Let the conversation flow and go away from the questions and go with the flow of the interview. I think it is important to sum up the interview and ask him is this right and is there anything you want to add? Use your smart phone as a recorder so you can have a natural conversation and not have your head stuck in a notepad taking notes. It helps for accurate quotes. Practice makes perfect and you learn from your mistakes.

Back to the book of interviews I am reading.

Title: Demon Barber: Interviews

Author: Lynn Barber

Publication Details: (Penguin, £8.99 in UK)

Check out this Irish Times review on it :
The Internet, Online, 5/7/2015

Sample Text:

When the British Independent on Sunday was launched a decade ago, Lynn Barber’s extended interviews with celebrities, politicians and movers and shakers were the flagship pieces in the IoS’s magazine. She’s since moved to the Observer, but the interviews – which earned her the monikers of Barber the Butcher and Demon Barber – are as sharp as ever. This is her second collection of interviews, and among those who submit to her scissors are Gerry Adams, Julie Burchill, Gilbert and George, Fergie’s da, Jarvis Cocker, Damien Hirst, Richard E.Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Calvin Klein and the late Alan Clark. There are only four women: Barber says herself she prefers interviewing the male sex – her first collection of interviews was called Mostly Men. The more starry or outrageous the subject, the happier she is. “Nice” people get short shrift. Of Felicity Kendal she writes: “I was secretly gratified to notice her hands looked older than mine, hideous knotted bony claws with crimson talons.” That remark indicates the mischief that marks Barber out as an interviewer, and which makes so much of her sharply-observed work fairly crow with glee. Only she could have written about Gerry Adams’s childhood and managed to bring in a reference to that gloriously subversive clan The Addams Family.

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We Should Support Dunnes Stores: Decency For All Workers By Annette J Dunlea

We Should Support Dunnes Stores: Decency For All Workers By Annette J Dunlea

(This is an old article I wrote for my journalism course this year April 2015)

5,000 Dunnes Stores workers members of the Mandate trade union staged a one-day strike on Thursday, April 2nd 2015. They were campaigning on several issues: a demand for the implementation of banded-hour contracts, fair pay for workers, a review of the use of temporary contracts of employment and the right to union representation for Dunnes’ workers. Mr Light said this was the “insidious” element to the type of low hour contract that Dunnes Stores issues.

“Dunnes not only control the wages of their workers and their access to social welfare, they also prevent their workers from obtaining a second job without their explicit permission. There is a disgraceful abuse of power at play here,” he said.

Mandate Trade Union has a procedural agreement with Dunnes Stores which dates back to 1996. Despite freely signing up to this agreement, the company now says it “will not enter into direct discussions with a Trade Union”, in direct contravention to their collective agreement.
“What Dunnes workers are asking for is very reasonable,” says Mr Light. “They’re asking for rights that are already afforded to workers in all of Dunnes Stores’ main competitors including Tesco, Penneys, Marks & Spencer, Supervalu and many others, where the workers have secure banded hour contracts and a right to representation.”Mandate are calling on all members of the public and other union members to respect Dunnes staff picket lines and more actions will follow.

He added, “Least we forget, Dunnes remains a highly profitable retailer with an estimated turnover of approximately €2.2 billion in the Irish grocery sector alone. It won’t cost them anything but pride to sit down and negotiate a banded hours framework which would afford their employees the same security of hours and income which is common place in all of their main competitors.”

Employers have long been accused of demanding flexibility from workers while giving little or none in return. In the depths of the recession some came to expect an even more intense combination of servitude and gratitude. Alleged intimidation by Dunnes sparks call for leglislation. Mandate calls on Minister to bring forward law paving way for collective bargaining. We need this urgently.

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light wrote to the Minister last night as reports came in “from all over the country” of Dunnes management moving to “target” workers who had participated in last week’s strike. The union says workers who were on pickets had been called into meetings with management the day after the strike and have had hours reduced, have been moved from long-held positions and have had had established shift patterns changed. Mr Light said the union had heard from managers anonymously, saying they had been ordered by more senior managers to compile lists of everyone who had been on pickets. With at least three quarters of Dunnes’ staff on flexible short-term contract.

Dunnes remain intractable.

“This right is one that the company acknowledges is every employee’s right, but in as much as the Constitution recognises that right; it also recognises that there is a right effectively of disassociation, namely that an employer is not obliged to nor must it talk or engage directly with trade unions.”

Dunnes Stores said that, at a time when the retail industry was fighting for survival, staff in the company had received two pay increases while it had also maintained employment levels.
The recession is over and Dunnes are making billions in profits. Workers took zero hours contracts and added jobs like office work, bin emptying and cleaning toilets, they work unsocial hours: night shifts and weekends and are loyal employees. They deserve a fair wage and decent working conditions. Dunnes policy is an assault on dignity of working people. ‘Everyone needs to get behind Dunnes workers, in the name of common decency’.

In October last year Dunnes failed to show up for a Labour Court hearing with Mandate, while the company offered a 20% discount on all online purchases on the day of Dunnes’ staff strike, a move that was condemned by all.Members of Mandate Trade Union voted with a majority of more than two thirds in favour of the industrial action.

“None of us want to go on strike”, Dunnes Stores worker Cathy McLoughlin, said, “Our employer continues to refuse entering into discussions with us through our union, and they won’t even go to the Labour Court to address our issues. None of us want to go on strike because we really can’t afford it, but what other option have we got? Our employer can stop the strike by simply agreeing to meet our Union and we don’t feel that’s an unreasonable request.

“The actions of management in the past week clearly illustrate the disproportionate level of control and power that managers have over their workers and their incomes, but this is nothing new for workers in Dunnes.”

The Union explained some of the actions by Dunnes: Workers have been dismissed – with one case taking place less than 24 hours after the strike. The local manager informed the worker “the business isn’t there” – despite workers with less service and who hadn’t been on strike remaining in employment. Cuts to hours meaning a significant reduction in incomes for workers and their families.

Workers who have worked in certain departments for more than twenty years have been moved to other departments where they may potentially lose hours and suffer a change to their established working patterns in the future. Many workers have reported changes to regular shift patterns which make it difficult to manage family commitments.

“This behaviour by management in Dunnes Stores is deplorable and despicable and must be condemned by everybody,” he added. Mr Light said the actions by Dunnes over the last five days has only strengthened the resolve of Dunnes workers who are now more determined than ever to achieve their objectives of decent work. “This is exactly what we’ve been campaigning for in Dunnes Stores,” he said.

“The enormous public and political support for the Dunnes workers is needed now more than ever. Employers like Dunnes Stores should not be allowed to get away with this type of behaviour. This is why the government needs to implement stronger anti-victimisation laws and they also need to prioritise robust collective bargaining legislation.”

“Regrettably Dunnes Stores is continuing their chosen path of conflict and intimidation. Their behaviour is akin to something you’d see 100 years ago and it is very clear their irresponsible behaviour is damaging the business. We implore senior managers in Dunnes Stores to stop this campaign of retribution and intimidation and do the sensible and reasonable thing for both the business and for their loyal workers,” he said. “They should simply sit down and enter meaningful negotiations with their workers through their trade union us as a matter of urgency, before they do any more damage to the business,” concluded Mr Light.

The one day Dunnes Stores strike a ‘massive success’, claims Gerry Light, speaking said that a meeting recently had agreed to potential future strikes. “Our members are angry and disappointed with the behaviour of Dunnes Stores management who have continued a campaign of intimidation and hostility against union members since they went on strike less than two weeks ago.”

However, this has only made them more determined to win decent contracts of employment for all Dunnes Stores workers.

“The committee recommended a three pronged approach as the next steps in the campaign:the potential for further industrial action at the company.A major public event in support of the workers. A legal approach to pursue claims for victimisation as appropriate.

Political leaders slammed Dunnes Stores for launching an online sale to coincide with a strike today, describing it as “cynical”.

“Workers need to stand by workers,” , a staff member commented. “A strike does no one good, but working together will.” he said.

There is strong cross-party support for the workers. FF leader says dispute is ‘like 19th century’. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has backed Dunnes Stores workers in their opposition to the company’s alleged use of low-hour contracts. Michael Martin said more legislation needs to be brought forward to address legislative loopholes that result in employees being treated without “decent, dignity and security”.Legislation is on the way and should be in place by July 2015. A major employer was exercising power over its employees, Mr Kenny said.”There is no decency at the heart of the relationship between this employer and these workers,’’ he added.

The Government believes planned legislation on collective bargaining rights could provide a solution for similar disputes in the future. Under the proposed Bill, staff in companies that do not engage with unions could have their terms and conditions assessed by the Labour Court in comparison with those in similar firms. If the employer ignored the court’s recommendation, the finding could be enforced in the Circuit Court.

The Government is planning to have the legislation enacted by the summer. Sinn Féin has called for the legislation to be brought forward. Staff at Dunnes Stores who are members of the mandate trade union are to hold a major protest march in Dublin, probably in early June. Mr Light said that in addition to the national protest in Dublin, a number of local initiatives would also take place. As a result of these workers brave actions the government is not enacting legislation to protect part-time workers. There has been great public support of Dunnes Stores staff and more awareness of staff working part-time and needing to access supplementary welfare.

The End

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