Thursday 27 October 2016

Clerys workers picket new owners as taxpayer faces €2.5m redundancy bill

Former Clerys workers at Natrium’s offices in North Wall
Former Clerys workers at Natrium’s offices in North Wall

Dozens of former Clerys workers assembled at the office of the new owners of the building to express their anger 11 weeks after the loss of their jobs.

The protesters gathered at the office of Natrium Ltd on North Wall Quay, Dublin.

The former workers and SIPTU representatives demanded to meet with Natrium management to discuss wages and redundancy entitlements.

It comes after reports emerged that the taxpayer will face a bill of €2.5m for the statutory redundancy of the 460 employees.


Gerry Markey, Clerys shop steward and organiser of the SIPTU-supported protest, explained the impact the shock closure has had on his life.

"We want answers as to why our future was robbed from us. We deserve respect and we've been denied that.

"We demand a meeting with Natrium," he said.

Even Santa Clause wasn't spared the sack in June.

Sean Whelan (84), from East Wall, said: "I was hired by Clerys in 1994 to work as Santa Clause every Christmas in-store.

"I did it for four years. But when I was growing up I visited Santa there myself as a child, we bought everything for a big occasion there, our Communion clothes our Confirmation clothes.

"I always loved Clerys, it was always the epitome of Dublin to me. It was a great Irish company. The staff were always lovely people and I think the way they have been treated is obscene," he added.

Suzie Gaynor McGowan (30), from Clondalkin, said: "I can't even pass the building without feeling really sad. It's part of our history. It's such a shame.

"We've been treated with no dignity and no respect.

"Paying for our own redundancy through taxes, at the end of the day is just a kick in the teeth."

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton yesterday expressed his dissatisfaction at the job loses.

"[I'm] totally unhappy - we're looking afresh at [it]. Minister [for Employment] Ged Nash has done an investigation on this - we're looking in the future to see what changes we need to make in our law to prevent this sort of thing happening.


"This was an appalling impact on the workers, and something we need to learn lessons from," Mr Bruton said in remarks broadcast on Newstalk.

In June, workers claimed they were not given adequate warning at the closure of the store and were already owed back-pay.

Clerys was sold for an undisclosed sum, while the High Court has appointed Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG as provisional liquidators to the company operating the shop.

A spokesman for Natrium Ltd declined to comment.

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