herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Ex-Clerys workers call for new laws to protect employees

Former Clerys worker Gerry Markey (left) presents a special Justice for Clerys award to Siptu’s Ethel Buckley alongside ex-staff John Finn, John Crowe and Susan Gaynor-McGowan
Former Clerys worker Gerry Markey (left) presents a special Justice for Clerys award to Siptu’s Ethel Buckley alongside ex-staff John Finn, John Crowe and Susan Gaynor-McGowan

Ex-Clerys workers are calling on the Government to bring in laws to protect workers from the treatment they received.

Speaking at a Siptu conference, former employees said they didn't want other workers to suffer in the way they did when the iconic O'Connell street store was sold.

The campaigners still haven't met with the owner of the building, Deirdre Foley, since the store closed its doors in 2015.

Last year, Clerys was bought by Natrium for €29m just hours before it was shut.

The store's 130 staff and 300 concession workers were then sacked with no notice or redundancy, sparking outrage nationwide.

A report on the treatment of workers then recommended the introduction of new protections for workers, including increased compensation to as much as two years' pay.

The Duffy-Cahill report also suggested that employees should have the opportunity for consultation for at least 30 days before collective redundancies take place.

Susan Gaynor-McGowan, a former Clerys employee, urged Siptu's National Executive Committee to lobby the Government to introduce those proposals into law.

"The recommendations in the Duffy-Cahill report regarding changes to the law need to be enacted now," she said.

Ms Gaynor-McGowan acknowledged that such legal changes would not help Clerys workers who lost their jobs.

"We are campaigning for a change in the law so that no other workers will have to endure what we went through last year," she said.

Difficulties

"Our campaign is still going strong," she added. "The wholesale retail and distribution sector, the services division and the union will continue this campaign until the law has changed."

Ms Gaynor-McGowan, who worked in ladies fashions, also highlighted the difficulties workers faced when trying to find other jobs.

"We were left with nothing," she said.

"Some of our colleagues were working in Clerys for 40 years and were signing on for the first time in their entire lives," she added.

"The State paid for our redundancy. The State paid for our outstanding wages. The state is you and I, the taxpayer."

The Justice for Clerys Workers group plan to protest outside the Clerys building this afternoon.

Ethel Buckley, divisional organiser for Siptu's Service Division, said the union "will not rest" until the law changes.

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