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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 2, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    The death of Game

    Ciara O'Brien

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    It’s been a week since Game closed its doors in Ireland, putting 121 people out of a job and becoming the latest casualty of the downturn.

    It wasn’t entirely unexpected, with warning signs that the group was in difficulty for some months before it was forced to negotiate with suppliers and lost out on stocking some of the big titles – notably EA’s Mass Effect 3.

    The speed of the decision was what was shocking to employees. On Monday, a notice came through that administrators had been appointed. At lunchtime that same day, Game’s Irish stores were told to shut their doors.

    These signs were placed in the window of the Dawson Street store; similar signs were seen in other Game shops around the country.

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    Game had just over 600 stores across the UK and Ireland, and last Monday, the administrators closed 277 of them. Every store in the Republic was closed, with only five remaining on the island of Ireland, all of them in the North. That’s 121 people out of a job in the Republic and 110 in the North, with no real period of notice.

    The remaining British stores have been sold to investment firm OpCapita, saving almost 3,200 jobs in Britain, but it does nothing for the Irish workers, whose stores will remain closed.

    On Saturday, the group put out a statement, saying the administrators (PwC) have told them that they must apply directly to the Government for their redundancy, as neither the administrators nor the company will be paying it. I’m not sure what the exact waiting time is now for obtaining statutory redundancy payments from the State, but it certainly won’t be in time for employees to have the money to pay their mortgages and bills next month. You’re looking at a couple of months if you’re lucky; as of mid-March this was the update for processing claims.

    Game’s staff aren’t taking it lying down though. They are still protesting at the closure, staging demonstrations and sit ins at 11 stores. There’s been a decent bit of support for them; if you want to lend your voice to it, you can get them on Facebook, on Twitter, or by email at gameireland13@gmail.com.

    • Eoin says:

      I don’t understand why the former Game workers have to apply to the State to get their redundancy payment..

      Isn’t Game the one who should be paying it?

      Especially considering the fact that over 300 of the stores have been sold on.

      Is Game required to use the funds it got from OpCapita to pay redundancy?

      Or is it not that simple?

    • JOD says:

      Unfair ‘Game’ indeed. Suppose the owners/directors think they can sod off back to the UK (or rather, sit there smugly) and escape the laws on redundancy here. It’ll be interesting to see if they’d be right in that. What they’ve done so far seems patently illegal and moreover disgustingly arrogant and condescending not to mention unethical and immoral given their duty of care to their employees (and doubtless people who’ve bought Game gift vouchers will be shafted also.

      Those employees have a right, as has any worker under Irish law, to a minimum of one week’s stautory redundancy PAID BY THE EMPLOYER, who if they cannot pay are legally obliged to complete a Form RP50 and send it to the authorities accepting liability for 85% of the statutory redundancy that will be paid by the State (when She gets round to it) and attach audited accounts (presumably these can be got from PwC) evidencing their inability to pay or a statement from a solicitor confirming same.

      Anyone working for more than two years is entitled to 2 weeks’ notice; 4 weeks’ notice for between 5 and 10 years’ service; 6 weeks’ notice for between 10 and 15 years’ service; and if they’ve more lengthy service yet then they’re entitled to up to eight weeks’ notice. Moreover the employer has a duty to consult with the employees and provide them with a Form RP50 giving the statutory period of notice applicable to the employee’s individual service period. The employees should all immediately complete Form RP77 and get it to their employers claiming a redundancy lump sum. And they should be getting in touch with the Employment Appeals Tribunal at the same time.

      There is a legal requirement under the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007 that the company consults with the employees 30 days (minimum) before the first individual notice of dismissal is served.

      The consultations must include
      alternatives to avoiding redundancy
      ways of minimising the numbers to be made redundant and mitigating the effect on those who will be through providing time off to seek alternative employment and aid for retratining.
      the reasons for the redundancies

      The employer is obliged to consult with the employees or their representatives in law.

      And the employer is obliged to give written notification to the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation (I think that’s what the old Enterprise Trade and Employment is called. This week at least.) 30 days in advance of the first notice of redundancy being served and certain information is required concerning the selection of canddiates for redundancy in this notification.

      The 1977 Protection of Employment Act levies a fine not exceeding EUR5000.00 where employers are found not to have consulted with the empoyees or failed to supply them with information. The same act also levies a separate fine not exceeding EUR5000 on employers who fail to give notice to the Minister 30 days before first dismissal.

      And if collective redundancies are effected by the employer before the 30 day notice period expires, the offence mandates a penalty not exceeding EUR250,000.00

      Game over.