Paris Bakery workers end protest after Revenue intervenes

Former workers had been staging a sit-in over unpaid wages for the last three weeks

Paris Bakery workers Inna kovalska, Eduard Claihnet, Anissa Hosany and Matilde Naranjo get sprayed with champagne after ending their sit-in on its 19th day following official confirmation from Revenue that the company will be wound up at the Paris Bakery on Moore Street, Dublin. This will allow the workers to access the Insolvency Fund. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Paris Bakery workers Inna kovalska, Eduard Claihnet, Anissa Hosany and Matilde Naranjo get sprayed with champagne after ending their sit-in on its 19th day following official confirmation from Revenue that the company will be wound up at the Paris Bakery on Moore Street, Dublin. This will allow the workers to access the Insolvency Fund. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 21:29

Former workers who had been staging a sit-in for almost 20 days at the Paris Bakery in Dublin have ended their protest after Revenue stepped in to wind down the company.

About 25 employees and former employees of the acclaimed bakery and restaurant had been left without pay after the business suddenly closed nearly three weeks ago.

It had been due to vacate the Moore Street premises at the end of June as the landlord had decided not to renew the lease.

A letter was hand delivered to the bakery earlier this afternoon notifying the owners of Paris Bakery of the Revenue’s intention to wind up the company in the High Court.

In a statement this evening the workers said they had just received official confirmation that Revenue were going to intervene.

“It’s the 19th day of our sit-in and we are finally leaving the bakery... As our employers Yannick Forel and Ruth Savill completely refused to even speak to us – let alone pay us the €100,000 we are owed in wages — the Revenue Commissioner was our last hope. We will now have access to the Insolvency Fund, and we can get on with our lives,” it said.

Eduard Clahinet, a former shop assistant, thanked supporters and fellow former members of staff for their support over the past three weeks.

“It was a stressful time for us because we found ourselves locked out without our wages being paid. Our only hope was that the Revenue would step in and they did. We remain half happy and half worried; we are still waiting for the Government to change the legislation so that no other workers end up in same situation as we did.”

Mr Clahinet urged workers to join unions and said it was “like having a weapon in your pocket.”

“Always keep united and always fight back. Never stop until you achieve what you deserve. We had our ups and downs but because we remained united we were able to help each other,” said Mr Clahinet.

Inna Kovalska who worked as a pastry chef at Paris Bakery for three years also urged workers to join unions. “When I started I was the only person who was a member of the union and I am glad I did because of all the support I have received.”

Anissa Hosany said she was “shocked” by the level of support the workers had received over the past few weeks. “We would like to say a big thanks to all our supporters, it was unexpected.”

Mick Halpenny from Ictu said the situation at Paris Bakery has “thrown a spotlight on the need for legislative change in this area.”

“There is a trap for workers where an employer ceases trading and does not go into an orderly wind down. The workers are then prevented from accessing the payments they are due from the insolvency payment scheme of the state,” said Mr Halpenny.

“The government have two choices. They have existing powers under the present legislation to bring in changes or they can bring in an amendment to the existing legislation to change the definition of insolvency and make it conform with European law which provides for a situation that allows workers in cases where an employer has simply ceased trading and doesn’t pay wages for a number of weeks, to have that deemed insolvency,” he said.

Mr Halpenny added that the Paris Bakery workers are “an enduring lesson in solidarity” and that lessons must be learned so that workers join unions “before situations like this arise.”