Following last week’s industrial action, closed-door talks between trade union officials and Dunnes senior management have borne fruit.

A source close to Frank Dunne has said that the grocery scion, with a personal fortune of over €500 million, has offered a salary correction in the form of Dunnes vouchers and discounts to workers. Mr Dunne finally took our phone call when we told his assistant we were calling about an unpaid tab in Stringfellow’s. When asked about the plight of staff in his privately owned empire, Mr Dunne seemed initially sympathetic.

“We’re all feeling the squeeze, I’ve had to downgrade chauffeurs from English to Bulgarian. Butler’s wages have held fairly steady during the recession as well, and I have six. It’s something to do with the lifelong indentured servitude, being on call twenty four hours a day and not knowing what their hours are for the coming week. So I know where the workers are coming from.”

When pressed about the specifics of his proposed enhanced remuneration plan, Dunne was cagey.

“The grocery market has fallen by 7% in recent years and that’s really had a knock-on effect on wages and little things like that. One of our vice-presidents, Emma, my cousin’s girlfriend…”

His voice catches here. It’s clear from the recording that he was crying.

“She, eh… She wasn’t able to upgrade her car yet this year. So she’s stuck with a 142 Bimmer. In Killiney.”

He dissolves into sobs here.

“But I need to lead by example. I am master of my own destiny, by instilling confidence in the markets and the shareholders, I can turn this around. Murdoch is always telling us at New World Order meetings…”

Dunne catches himself and threatens legal action should we disclose this, “Anyway, we are offering a ten percent discount on pesto and champagne to ALL of our workers across ALL of our stores, on purchases of two hundred euro or more. Anyone can avail of it, from the managers to the guys herding the trolleys. Think about it, for an everyday brand like Veuve Cliquot, that could represent dozens of euro in savings.”

When asked why he was doling out vouchers instead of addressing legitimate concerns about pay and working conditions, Dunne cut the call short, explaining that he had a couple of runners at Fairyhouse.


Conor McGinnity