John Recto, the third man to join the Green Isle Foods hunger strike today had to call to Naas Garda Station this morning, where he was informed that his work visa has not been renewed. He was told he has until March 8th to leave the country. He is from the Philippines and has been working at the Green Isle Foods facility for the past eight years.
His wife and three children, aged six, seven and one year old, are living with him in Naas. His youngest child was born in Ireland.
Ironically March 8th is also the day when Cork City Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council are to discuss motions on the Green Isle Foods dispute. Dublin City Council passed a motion on Monday night calling on the company to accept the Labour Court recommendation made last December as the basis for resolving the six months old dispute. The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, representing the men, has already accepted the recommendation.
The union’s General Secretary Designate, Eamon Devoy, said, “If the company had accepted the Labour Court recommendation last December this would not be happening today. It is a tragedy for John and his family, who have been struggling like the other families to survive for the past six months of the dispute.
“It is one of the most shocking experiences I can recall in my 25 years as a union official that any family has had had to undergo in the middle of an industrial dispute.”
John Recto said he was going ahead with the hunger strike regardless, “I have mixed emotions naturally about what has happened today, but we agreed this was the only way to make the company come to the table and I am ready to go ahead as planned. It is a big challenge, but I am ready for it.”
He added that he had first been notified by the immigration authorities that he was required to call to Naas Garda station for interview two weeks ago. When he arrived this morning at Naas Garda station an immigration officer asked him for his passport, proof of residence, a copy of the Labour Court Recommendation and John’s Garda ID card.
“He recommended that I write to the Minister for Justice for an extension of the visa. As my family is dependent for residence in Ireland on my visa they will also have to leave.” John said that his one year old son had an Irish passport.
The TEEU is holding a press conference in Liberty Hall at 2.30pm, Dublin, in relation to the Green Isle Foods dispute where John will be available for interview along with the other hunger strikers. They are TEEU shop steward Jim Wyse, aged 58, who has been on hunger strike for 15 days and Offaly All-Ireland footballer John Guinan, aged 48,who has been on hunger strike for eight days.
The dispute is over the unfair dismissal of three members and the refusal of the company to recognise the men’s right to union representation in the workplace. The Labour Court has recommended that the three men be fully reinstated, or paid €180,000 compensation for the loss of their jobs.
Union members decided to go on hunger strike after spending six months on the picket line outside the Green Isle Foods plant in Naas, County Kildare. The company has rebuffed offers at mediation by the Labour relations Commission, National Implementation Body and Labour Court.
It has engaged in a mediation process under the auspices of Bernard Durkan TD and Jack Wall TD since shortly after the hunger strike began on February 17th, but progress has been slow.
See www.teeu.ie for more information and Hunger Strike Diary
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