South Dublin County Council to Confer the Honorary Freedom of the County to the Eleven Anti Apartheid Dunne Stores Workers on the 30th Anniversary of the Strike.
The ceremony will take place after May’s County Council meeting on the 6th May at 6.30pm in South Dublin County Council Civic building in Tallaght.
South Dublin County Council will award the freedom of the county to the eleven Dunne Stores Strike who went on strike in 1984 to protest against the handling of South African fruit and vegetables.
This July marks the thirtieth anniversary of the strike. The strike lasted for two and half years and ultimately led to then government to ban all importation of South African produce to Ireland. The motion was formally agreed by all political leaders and Councillors at April’s County Council Meeting.
Councillor Gino Kenny of the People Before Profit Alliance who put forward the motion earlier this year in recognition and the importance of the strike on the thirtieth anniversary said:
“I think the Dunne Stores strike of 1984 and it’s narrative in trying to highlight the abhorrence of apartheid will forever be etched in trade union history in Ireland. Not only were the workers fighting an employer but their sentiment of international solidarity was a tribune against the oppressive state that was apartheid South Africa. Their journey evolved into one of the most important trade union strikes in Irish labour history that set out to boycott apartheid goods. Their own personal sacrifice during those two and half years was testament to themselves and the greater good of highlighting the terrible injustice of apartheid”
“On the upcoming 30th anniversary of the strike I can think of no better way to mark the occasion than putting this motion forward. Of course since 1984 we have seen the end of apartheid and the passing of Nelson Mandela last year. I think its in great recognition from this civic body that we salute the eleven people four of whom reside in the county with the highest award that this council can esteem to a person or persons who have made a enormous contribution to better the lives of others. To this its a honour for me to put this motion forward and celebrate the great ideals of the strike. The flame of resistance, solidarity and fraternity which was the heart beat of the strike still burns bright”
In July 1984 Eleven Dunnes Stores workers working in Henry Street Dublin went on strike. The workers union directive at the time instructed workers on a principled and moral stance not to handle apartheid South African produce namely fruit and vegetables. In carrying out the union directive the eleven workers ten women and one man went on a strike on a principled stance not to handle fruit from apartheid South Africa. The strike lasted for two and a half years and untimely changed government policy at the time on the importation of fruit from South Africa to Ireland.Ireland became the first country to ban produce from South Africa. The strike and boycott gained international prominence and garnered the international community and workers movements against apartheid.
The strike became was one of the most important trade union strikes in Ireland in the twentieth century. 2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the strike. The strike not only highlighted the abhorrent system of apartheid but inspired workers from around the world that they could make a difference in their workplace and community. To this day the legacy of the strike still holds the great ideals of international solidarity and social justice. On this basis and the contribution the workers made to the anti apartheid struggle in Ireland I would like to nominate the eleven people with the honor of the freedom of South Dublin County Council.