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Retirement, new jobs and better laws: Clerys workers proud and positive after 'appalling' treatment

A review was announced today to try to stop a repeat of what happened to the 460 Clerys workers.

john finn John Finn, second from the right, with other former Clerys workers today. Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

AS HE STOOD in Baltic conditions outside the shutters of the closed-down department store, John Finn, a Clerys worker for more than 40 years was feeling positive today.

This morning a review of company law was announced, prompted by the devastating situation 460 Clerys workers found themselves in when the store closed suddenly last June.

“What happens doesn’t affect us, but it will for the workforce coming forward,” Finn told TheJournal.ie.

“The plan is to come up with legislation to amend company law so that this will not happen again.”

Ministers Richard Bruton and Ged Nash have appointed Kevin Duffy, chairperson of the Labour Court and company law specialist Nessa Cahill to carry out the eight week review.

They will examine legal protections for workers, particularly where operations and assets can be moved to separate legal entities, as was the case with Clerys.

‘Left high and dry’

dav Minister Ged Nash meeting former Clerys workers. Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

After meeting with workers outside the department store today, Nash said former employees were “treated absolutely appallingly”.

“They were left high and dry by the owners and it was up to the State, to taxpayers, to fund their statutory redundancy payments,” he said.

I believe most Irish people were deeply disturbed by this conduct – predatory capitalism at its very worst. While employment law and company law have been devised for different purposes, I believe that we must now examine what changes could be made to the two codes or at the interface of these two codes to better protect employees.

Moving on

John Finn was just a year off retirement when Clerys closed. At this stage, he said he won’t be looking for another job but many of his former colleagues have managed to find work elsewhere in the last six months.

Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

“One or two down the line  there just started work last week. Every week we’re hearing of someone else getting sorted. Not everybody will be sorted but, look, every little helps.”

However Siptu’s Ethel Buckley said her concern was about the”quality of jobs” they were going into.

“These were good unionised jobs, now they’re getting minimum wage jobs, there’s no union and that’s indicative of the way the labour force is going now,” she said.

Read: Christmas at Clerys: A century of bittersweet memories>

Read: Clerys operators used “ponzi scheme” to pay concession holders, court told>

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