Clerys workers gather at new owner's offices to vent their outrage
MORE than 50 protesters gathered at the office of the new owners of Clerys yesterday to express their outrage at how workers have been treated.
Former staff accused the consortium that bought Clerys, Natrium Ltd, of treating them "savagely" and said they are even angrier than when they learned of the shock closure of the Dublin institution last week.
They also hit out at the new owners' failure to meet unions since then.
The company that ran Clerys was put into liquidation last Friday with the loss of up to 460 jobs.
Some of the workers learned that their jobs were gone through social media and news reports.
The protesters gathered at Natrium's Harcourt Terrace office which it shares with D2 Private whose boss, Deirdre Foley, is a director of the firm that bought Clerys.
Natrium broke its silence on the matter for the first time yesterday.
It released a statement saying it is "conscious that the necessary closure of the department store has had a very serious impact on the former employees".
It said it plans to "significantly invest" in the rejuvenation of the Clerys building and adjacent properties.
"On completion, a predominantly retail-led development encompassing other commercial uses, subject to the planning process, will generate a minimum of 1,700 new sustainable long-term jobs in Dublin city centre," it added.
However, the statement was not enough to placate the angry workers.
Gerry Markey (53), who worked at Clerys for 34 years, expressed his discontent at the "lack of respect" shown to staff.
"It's completely unacceptable. Natrium have shown complete disrespect and disregard for us," he said.
"It's been a week since we were let go and there has still been no direct communication with our union.
"I don't think much of them saying they'll create that many jobs.
"If she (Deirdre Foley) is talking about hiring 1,700 people, why did she let 460 go? There's no bones and structure to it."
Mr Markey also brought an envelope containing a written request for a meeting with Ms Foley to the front door of D2 Private.
Siptu sector organiser Teresa Hannick described Natrium's statement as "wishy-washy", and said there was "no guarantee" about the creation of jobs in the future.
"We are still in shock and the workers are probably angrier than they were last week because of the way Natrium has treated them over the last seven days by ignoring their calls to meet for talks," she said.
"One line saying they (Natrium) are conscious of the impact this closure has had on people isn't good enough - it doesn't take in the impact the job losses has had on our people who were savagely and disgustingly treated.
"The financial and psychological effect of what has happened to Clerys workers deserves more then a little line at the end of a paragraph."
Siptu head of campaigns and equality Ethel Buckley said the Clerys workers had gathered at Natrium's office to look for answers.
"The Clerys workers have come to the registered office of Natrium on Harcourt Terrace, and they've brought their campaign here to demand a face-to-face meeting because they want answers as to what happened last Friday," said Ms Buckley.
"They want answers regarding the purchase and liquidation of the business, and for the last week we've looked to have a meeting with Natrium but to no avail."