Mandate (trade union)

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File:2009-09-27 Ireland Dublin Mandate Trade Union 079a.jpg
Door to home of "Mandate - The Union of Retail, Bar and Administrative Workers" in Dublin

The Mandate trade union was formed in 1994 with the amalgamation of IDATU and INUVGATA trade unions. It describes itself as: :The Union of Retail, Bar and Administrative Workers. It is affiliated with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.


The two unions which merged to form Mandate had long histories of their own. IDATU (the Irish Distributive & Administrative Union) was founded as the Drapery Assistants Association around 1903 by Michael O'Lehane of Macroom, Co. Cork, a founding member of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The union was founded after a major fire took the lives of a number of female shop workers in Limerick who were living in cramped and unsafe conditions overhead one of the city's major drapery shops.

The union later changed its name to the Irish Union of Distributive Workers and Clerks (IUDWC), but this was again changed in the early 1980 to the Irish Distributive & Administrative Trade Union (IDATU).

The union experienced rapid growth in the 1980s under the stewardship of General Secretary John Mitchell who was seen as a left-winger. In 1984 a number of female workers at Dunnes Stores department store in Henry Street, Dublin refused to sell South African oranges as part of the growing campaign against the Apartheid regime then in power. Mitchell gave full support to the workers and a long strike / lockout ensued.[1] The action made international headlines and at one stage a delegation of Dunnes Workers led by Mitchell were expelled from South Africa where they had gone to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Mitchell was ousted from his position in 1988, leading to a major controversy and claims of unfair dismissal from himself and leading supporters. He was also heavily criticised for expanding the union into Northern Ireland where a row took place with the rival GMB union. Mitchell took legal action to secure reinstatement but eventually the union made a settlement with him, but he was not reinstated.[2]

Some years later the union merged with the Irish National Union of Vintners', Grocers' and Allied Trades Assistants to become Mandate, a move criticised by some members because the word "union" was not contained in the title. Later the union was renamed Mandate Trade Union. A new logo was designed in 2009.


  1. Anti-Fascist Action, Ireland

External links