Murphy denies ‘union busting’ claims amid Unite protests

J Murphy and Sons “categorically refutes” allegations that it sacked four workers in Ireland for campaigning over pay.

Trade union Unite has launched an international campaign “to end union busting at J Murphy and Sons and its subsidiaries,” accusing the Camden-headquartered contractor of suspending 15 workers who held a meeting over non-payment of travel and subsistence fees.

According to Unite, four of the workers, who were fitters and welders employed Murphy International Ltd on a refurbishment project at Ireland’s giant Rusal Aughinish Alumina refinery, were later sacked, in September 2022. Unite calls for the workers to be reinstated.

However, Murphy said: “We categorically refute Unite’s misleading claims concerning the nature of this case. The claims regarding the reason for the dismissals and allegations of union busting are factually incorrect.

“Murphy International Limited acted in response to unballoted, unnotified, and therefore unlawful strike action taken by a small minority of workers at our Aughinish site in Limerick, Ireland. Murphy has had a presence on site for over 40 years, enjoying good industrial relations on the site. All its employees who work on the site are members of trade unions.

The contractor added: “The company has always indicated that it is open to resolving this matter amicably and sensibly. We remain committed to maintaining an open dialogue with all parties around this issue to try to draw a line under this matter. This matter is currently subject to legal proceedings in Ireland.”

Sharon Graham, general secretary at the union, has said that “Murphy’s behaviour is deplorable” and called the firm “guilty of flagrant union-busting”.

She added: “Unite will never allow such attacks on members to go unchallenged and it will leave no stone unturned until Murphy does the right thing and reinstates the workers.”

Unite has started an international campaign that will feature protests and demonstrations targeting Murphy and its key business partners, customers and lenders.

Last week, Unite members demonstrated outside the offices of multidisciplinary consultant Mott MacDonald due to its work with a joint venture between J. Murphy and Sons and Bouygues.

In Ireland, Unite is focusing on Murphy’s bid for a number of Irish Water contracts. It has sent legal letters to the Irish government calling for Murphy to be barred from public sector contracts.

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