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Why I shop in a Fair Shop

02 May 2013

By David Gibney

Every week we all make a decision at least once about where we’re going to spend our hard-earned cash.

Where will we buy our groceries, our clothes, our shoes, our toiletries, or – for some – our makeup?

That decision, for most of us, takes very little consideration.

Some of us choose a place where there’s a comfortable shopping experience, or somewhere where the customer service is exceptional, or sometimes it’s as simple as what’s conveniently close by.

Increasingly though, following several years of austerity measures resulting in a loss of income for many households, it has become tempting for some of us to shop in discount stores in order to get ‘value for money.’

However, at times like this, it is even more important that we pay particular attention to which retailers we support as consumers.

In a country where trade unions have no collective bargaining rights, it is imperative that we support retailers who voluntarily respect their own workforce by entering into agreements with their staff.

Retailers such as Tesco, Boots, Superquinn, Penneys, Marks & Spencers, to name a few, allow their workers to have a say in how the workplace is run and what terms and conditions of employment the staff enjoy.

If a company announces record profits, sometimes for three or four years in a row, the workers can argue for a fairer share of those profits through the collective bargaining process.

Over the past year or so, Mandate members have negotiated several collective agreements with retailers that will see several millions of euro in the hands of workers instead of going to already-wealthy shareholders here or abroad.

This extra cash in the hands of these workers will not only help them to pay their bills, it will help to boost the local economy and create jobs.

Workers with collective bargaining rights can negotiate grievance and disciplinary procedures which are strictly adhered to, ensuring all workers are treated equally and that the boss doesn’t target those who he/she takes an arbitrary disliking to.

Some retailers say they allow a level of ‘engagement’ with their staff, but that is no substitute for real trade union collective bargaining led by members.

What Ireland needs now as a country is for working people to stand together collectively. You can help by making the simple decision to support retailers that engage in collective bargaining with their staff.

It makes sense from an ethical, economical and workers’ rights perspective and says a lot about what type of society we want to be.

I personally make a decision to shop in a Fair Shop because I want workers to be respected and have access to their fundamental human right to be in a trade union and be represented by that union.

If you support that ideal too, starting from today, make a commitment that you’ll spend your money where workers count.

Here are some of the Fair Shops we’ve identified so far: Argos, Arnotts, Boots, Brown Thomas, Caulfield’s Supervalu, Clerys, Debenhams, Heaton's, Hickeys, Marks and Spencer, Penneys, Pettit's Supervalu, Shaws, Shoe Zone, Superquinn and Tesco Ireland – and many more will be announced in future.

For more information about Fair Shop contact info@fairshop.ie