Despite pre-tax profits of £10.5 million in the first half of this year the bosses of the Laura Ashley outlet on Grafton Street abruptly told its 22 predominantly female employees late last month the the shop would be closing because they managed to sell the leasehold on the property to Disney for a lucrative price. The workers were initially given the impression that they would be successfully redeployed within the chain of stores.
Disregarding the loyal service of its staff, many having worked there for over ten years, the employers then disgracefully offered the statutory minimum of 2 weeks pay per years service of which the company can claim 60% back from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation.
In a further slap in the face to the workers they were told that those interested in remaining with the company would have to subject themselves to an interview for vacancies in other outlets rather than being automatically redeployed as one would rightfully expect.
The company have adopted a crude anti-union stance by refusing to engage in negotiations with Mandate regarding either the saving of jobs nor the improvement of redundancy conditions.
Spirits are high among the workers on the first day of the picket with many people offering support. The OPW branch of the Civil and Public Services Union also officially communicated their support to the workers today.
Pickets will continue throughout the weekend.
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP who visited the picket line to show his support commented:
“I and the Socialist Party totally oppose profitable companies being let get away with sacking workers simply so that they might further increase profits by sweating from elsewhere.
“We support the workers 100% and call on the working people everywhere to support the picket in Grafton Street and for Mandate to mount a campaign to save the jobs.
“I strongly urge Mandate to do what is necessary to force a retreat from the company. The first step in my view is extending protest action to all the other outlets in Athlone, Blanchardstown, Cork, Dundrum, Galway and Limerick informing potential shoppers of what is taking place in Grafton Street and building support for this among the workers in those outlets. At the end of the day this is the only language greedy employers understand.”