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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Alexander Homits

Workers' occupation of Iceland Talbot St enters 7th week after bank holiday demonstration

The workers have been occupying the Talbot St premises for over forty days.

Workers at Iceland’s Talbot St store held a demonstration yesterday, drawing support for their continued occupation of the store.

The workers said that they had no intention of ending the occupation until issues such as non-payment of wages, redundancy deals, and payment of owed sick and holiday pay were resolved.

The Talbot St store was closed in June, and staff gained entry and began to occupy the store on 25 June. They have maintained a 24/7 occupation, rotating who sleeps in the store.

Donna Grimes, a worker at the store, said that the Iceland workers fight is one that affects workers across Ireland.

We thought that our jobs were safe. On the Wednesday morning when the store closed, some of the girls showed up for work, and by nine o’clock their jobs were gone

“It’s us today, but it could be anyone tomorrow, because nobody’s job is safe,” she said.

Alexander Homits, a representative of the Independent Workers’ Union, said that the union now represents half of all Iceland workers in the country, and that the workers are drawing a “line in the sand”.

Homits, who has been the main point of contact for the workers throughout the dispute, said that the union and workers had “gone on strike, organised phone and media pickets, and researched who we were up against”.

Also present was James O’Toole, a housing activist involved in recent resistance to mass evictions at Tathony House.

“It’s not just a battle in the workplace that we’re waging, we’re also waging a battle to stay in our homes” he said.

“When Alex said that the IWU and the Iceland workers were drawing a line in the sand, it reminded me of the sentiment coming out of Tathony House. Because we’re drawing a line in the sand too, it’s the same fight against the same system.”

Among those in attendance was actor Liam Cunningham, who has been vocal in his support for Iceland workers since stores initially started to close.

F29DmO0WoAAjMY6 Independent Workers Union / Twitter Iceland workers, union, and supporters yesterday Independent Workers Union / Twitter / Twitter

Iceland’s Irish operations were taken over by Metron Stores Ltd in January 2023. Since the takeover, staff began to experience issues with payment of wages, holiday and sick pay, and deteriorating working conditions.

The company entered examinership in May, and store closures were suddenly announced in June.

The High Court heard in June that Metron Stores Limited, is insolvent and unable to pay estimated debts of €36 million as they fall due.

The examiner’s initial report recommended reducing Iceland’s Irish operations from 26 down to 10 stores.

The examiner’s final court date is set for 21 August.

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