Hundreds join protest over Clerys closure on O’Connell Street

About 500 gather to condemn treatment of 460 people formerly employed in store

Staff of Clerys were joined by family members and supporters outside the O’Connell Street, Dublin store in support of the workers who lost their jobs when the company went into liquidation last Friday. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

A crowd of about 500 protested at the closure of Clerys on O’Connell Street in Dublin on Tuesday following robust exchanges between liquidators and trade unionists.

Former employees of the department store were joined by sympathisers, politicians and trade union leaders outside the shuttered Clerys premises as they voiced dissatisfaction at the treatment of 460 workers following last week’s sudden closure.

Many explained that they were only notified of the wholesale job losses by friends and through social media following the change of ownership from Gordon Brothers to Natrium on Friday.

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“[My son] was on the way home on Friday when I phoned him to tell him he has no job [and] that we didn’t know what was happening. We were called to a meeting and told that’s the end of business . . . ” said Maureen Deans, a Clerys employee for 15 years.

Those who helped clean up the premises and clear out stock during floods, which closed the store for three months in 2013 and 2014, felt a keen sense of betrayal at last week’s announcement, according to Clerys employee Yvonne Wolfe.

Mortgages and kids

“We’re so angry. There’s people who have mortgages and kids – how are we going to survive? I’m smashed.”

Labour Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who was joined by Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, in condemning the treatment of the workers, said: “What [workers] described as what happened is nothing short of disgusting. People who’ve given 40 years of their lives to the store and given 30 minutes to leave.”

“Once we heard we were incredibly taken aback as to the manner in which it was done, it was really quite outrageous.

“The industrial relations mechanisms in the State have to be utilised to protect workers in this situation, and they deserve an awful lot better than the way they’ve been treated.”