Wallis workers strike in row over redundancy payments at Dublin and Limerick stores
Union says owner reneged on agreement
Workers at Wallis Grafton Street protesting about levels of redundancy pay as stores in Limerick and Grafton Street are to close. Photograph: Alan Betson
Workers at boutique chain Wallis, owned by British billionaire, Sir Philip Green, are striking in a row over redundancy payments the retailer is offering staff facing the loss of their jobs at Irish stores it intends closing.
Sir Philip’s Arcadia group, which owns Wallis, along with brands such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Topshop, is closing a number of stores in its Irish operation, including Wallis outlets in Dublin and Limerick.
The company is offering 2¾ weeks per year of service to staff who are losing their jobs, which their union, Mandate, says is in breach of an existing agreement requiring the group to pay five weeks for every year worked.
Staff yesterday picketed stores on Dublin’s Grafton Street and on Cruises Street in Limerick, where the dispute blew up three weeks ago. Workers in the Dublin outlet were told on Monday that it would close on Saturday.
Speaking at the Grafton Street picket yesterday, Mandate divisional organiser, David Moran, said that nine months ago, the company paid five weeks a year to staff that it let go from an outlet in Santry.
“It is clearly unfair and they have given us no explanation why these workers are now being treated differently,” he said.
In a statement issued earlier yesterday, divisional organiser, Brendan O’Hanlon, said the company was refusing to take up an invitation to go to the Labour Relations Commission to find a resolution to the dispute.
Mr O’Hanlon also warned that the union intended to picket Wallis’s Jervis Street store in Dublin once Grafton Street is closed on Saturday.
The British group said it had closed its “loss-making Wallis store” in Limerick and is due to shut the Grafton Street outlet on Saturday.
“We are working hard with our employees to resolve the industrial action that is happening and our primary concern is about the redeployment of as many of our staff as possible to other sites within the portfolio,” spokeswoman Saskia Osmond-Evans said. She added that Arcadia employs 1,017 staff in 114 outlets in the Republic.
Arcadia’s Irish business paid a dividend of more than €90 million to its British parent last year, despite making a pretax loss of almost stg£600,000.