A union official representing the 460 workers who lost their jobs when department store Clerys closed last year said the owner's application to redevelop the building shows a "breathtaking disregard" for decent business practice.
OCS Properties has applied to Dublin City Council for permission to convert the store into a hotel, shops, offices and bars , and to add a new level to the building on O'Connell Street.
Siptu official Ethel Buckley said the decision of OCS and businesswoman Deirdre Foley to apply for permission before the outcome of a court case concerning the takeover and closure of of the business shows a "continued breathtaking disregard for even a semblance of decent business practice".
Ms Buckley pointed out that her union had succeeded in getting Dublin City Council to stipulate that plans for O’Connell Street should assure workers of fair conditions.
“ I am sure that the former Clerys workers, trade unions, Dublin City Councillors and the general public will ensure that any future development of the store strictly meets these obligations in their entirety,” she said.
Maureen Deans of Justice for the Clerys Workers said she hoped the council would not grant planning permission until Ms Foley and Clerys purchaser Natrium engage with former staff.
“It is my hope that the Director of Corporate Enforcement will also act in relation to the events surrounding the sale of Clerys and the manoeuvres that took place in advance of the closing of Clerys.”
Clerys's takeover and closure last year with the loss of 467 jobs sparked an investigation by the Workplace Relations Commission and a review of company law. The store shut in June 2015 after Gordon Brothers sold the holding company, OCS, to Natrium, a joint venture between Ms Foley's D2 Private and UK company Cheyne Capital Management.
Within hours staff were told that it was closing and they would lose their jobs. They received the statutory redundancy entitlement of two weeks’ pay for every year of service, a total of €2.5 million, which the State paid.
It is still open to the Department of Social Protection to pursue the companies involved for this.
Liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG were appointed to wind up the company. Shortly after that the Workplace Relations Commission instructed inspectors James Kelly and Pat Phelan to investigate the circumstances surrounding the redundancies.
D2 Private and Deirdre Foley recently went to the High Court to challenge the inspectors' right to enter the company's premises and seize documents as part of their investigation. The court has yet to rule on the challenge.