A Long Term Staff Member with E + I Engineering has serious concerns about company policy in the midst of the current public health emergency.
An Open Letter To All Staff Of E + I, Their Families And The Wider Donegal/Derry Community.
A lot has been said in recent days in regards to the current situation within the factory and I have taken to this medium to offer some clarification as I am a long standing member of staff. Through the years I have experienced and witnessed an incredible volume of workers' rights violations, scandals and bully boy tactics that have been professionally swept under the carpet in the absence of union recognition and through fear of speaking out. But we can not allow this issue to follow the rest under the carpet as people are in danger and our families are at risk.
Hundreds of men and women are continuing our work in Non Essential Roles and have been since the discovery of the virus, including men who had been working in and out of France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and other high risk areas even after the outbreak of the virus.
* and some of these men were not brought home before strict lockdowns were introduced and are still to this minute hundreds of miles from their families in foreign countries in lockdown
The line being peddled that we are an essential service is a complete lie and to say this is utterly disrespectful to the genuinely essential work force on the front line, risking everything to fight this.
I have worked in this industry all my life and have worked for this company for a number of years and while I will concede there is an element of essential service in the industry it is an extremely small part of the works. Basically, if power were to be cut somewhere essential then a small team of workers would have to be called out to fix this. The chances of this happening are extremely small and as I say in the off chance would only require at most 3-4 men.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at every junction the only priority of the directors and their senior management has been, in their own words " business continuity". Their only concerns thus far have been to maintain production volumes and to continue to complete orders solely in the pursuit of profit. They will tell you that it is to protect contracts in order to protect jobs. This is an outright lie. One look at the company's books will show that they are in an extremely comfortable position and with directors that are amongst the wealthiest men on this island. They have amassed grotesque profits in recent years and can comfortably accommodate the closure of the factory in order to save lives.
The simple fact that the factory remains open is testament to the fact that the vultures calling the shots are Putting Profits Over People's Lives.
The company have taken measures in line with social distancing guidelines to some extent but they are ridiculous when compared with the magnitude of what we are facing and the seriousness of the risk to the workers, our families and our communities and have only been enforced correctly in the last few days after mounting pressure from the public, Gardaí and media and with a looming visit from the HSE expected this week. They are a drop in the ocean and could very well be too little too late.
So with lack of adequate action from the owners/ management and their refusal to treat this pandemic seriously the responsibility falls on we the workers. It has been suggested by some outside of the company that we follow fellow workers in similar situations and stage some kind of direct action, strike, walk out etc. The first issue with this is the refusal to recognise the workers' right to be unionised and a major fear of speaking out as a result of years of harassment towards union men and whistle blowers. This is a firm that will not even meet with union reps in the office as they are "not allowed past the gate."
But the key factor in our inability to take action is the lack of support for men living and working on two sides of the border. We have been completely neglected by both states. A large portion of the work force are young and on temporary contracts. This coupled with the company's attitude to workers' rights breeds fear that if action is taken we will in the short term be completely forgotten about, without any financial support and there is a real fear amongst the men that they will lose there jobs if action is taken.
We are human beings, we have families, we have bills to pay, we are vulnerable and we do not want to put genuinely essential workers under any further pressure.