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'Treat them with the respect they deserve': Siptu to hold rally in support of Clerys workers

Government ministers say they will do everything in their power to support the 460 former employees of the store.

Former workers of Clerys after attending an emergency meeting in Liberty Hall on Saturday to discuss what action could be taken.
Former workers of Clerys after attending an emergency meeting in Liberty Hall on Saturday to discuss what action could be taken.
Image: /Photocall Ireland

Updated 2.25pm

TRADE UNION SIPTU has called a rally in support of Clerys workers outside the department store on O’Connell Street, Dubin, tomorrow to highlight their demands for the new owners to meet with staff.

The store was taken over by consortium Natrium on Friday and a liquidator was appointed. Staff were only told on Friday evening that they no longer had jobs.

“The workers are demanding that representatives of Natrium meet with them and their union representatives immediately to discuss the situation. These workers have hundreds of years of service between them and should be treated with the due respect they deserve,” commented SIPTU sector organiser Teresa Hannick.

The rally will take place from 12pm tomorrow.

‘Appalling’

Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton has said the government will do everything in its power to support the 460 former Clerys workers after the shock closure of the store.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this morning, he said;

I can fully understand how they feel. I mean, it is terrible to lose your job and it’s particularly appalling to lose your job in the circumstances that they’ve experienced – very poor communication.

Liquidators KPMG have agreed to meet with the unions and workers tomorrow to try to give them some clarity about where they go from here and the minister said his department and the Department of Social Protection will also be meeting with them to discuss their rights and entitlements.

It is a real reminder that even though we are winning most of those battles and we’re sitting more jobs growth than decline, we continue to have sectors that are struggling. Some of them have business models that are, perhaps, very challenged and we have to always look at how do we equip ourselves to deal with those changes and I think that’s what we are doing.

He said he hoped the meetings this week will offer some comfort to the former Clerys workers.

“Nothing will take away the shock that has occurred for workers who have been impacted in this way but clearly we’re doing the very best to support them with the various supports from the state agencies.”

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‘Despicable’

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton mirrored his sentiments earlier, saying officials would be on hand this week to brief the 460 workers about welfare supports for their individual circumstances.

Speaking at Leinster House today, Dublin-based Fianna Fáil senator Darragh O’Brien welcomed the government’s approach so far but said it needed to be “more than words”.

He said what had happened to the Clerys workers is “despicable and disgraceful”, and added:

They’ve just treated people like dirt and it’s just not on in a modern democracy.

Meanwhile, Siptu has confirmed a union delegation will meet junior minister Ged Nash, who has responsibility for collective bargaining, tomorrow evening.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

Read: Clerys worker put down €600 deposit for furniture – hours before store’s shock closure>

Watch: Locks changed in Clerys as shocked workers told all the jobs are gone>

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