La Senza staff stage Dublin sit-in

 

Officials of the Mandate trade union will hold a meeting tomorrow morning with administrators of lingerie chain La Senza, which made its 93 Irish employees redundant today.

The meeting with KPMG comes as former employees continue a sit-in at one of the multinational’s Dublin branches seeking assurances they will be paid wages and overtime owed to them. They say they will not leave the store until all former employees are paid the monies owed to them.

Three former employees will attend tomorrow’s meeting.

The chain went into administration yesterday threatening 1,300 redundancies across over 100 outlets in Britain and the Republica. It operated eight stores in the State including a number of concessions in Debenhams department stores.

Some of its employees, most of whom are women, were told they were being made redundant last night. Some were told as they turned up for work this morning.

The workers at the multinational’s Liffey Valley branch occupied the store yesterday evening. By this morning, they had been joined by colleagues from the Grafton Street, Henry Street and Dundrum branches.

Tara Keane, who has been working in the Henry Street concession in Debenhams for four years, got a call at 7.40pm on Monday telling her that her contract had been terminated.

“We knew things weren’t good,” she said. “They just didn’t tell us what was happening, and we worked all over Christmas with this hanging over us.

“I was working until half six on Christmas Eve and I was back in at 7.30am on St Stephen’s Day working every hour I was asked. We all did.”

She was “very worried” she would not get the wages and overtime she was owed by La Senza.

Evelyn Gaynor, former worker at Liffey Valley, said staff had not been issued P45s. “We haven’t even got documents to go and claim social welfare. We have been left with no documents, nothing.”

Ms Gaynor said workers would continue their sit in at Liffey Valley until they received all payments they were due.

“It’s not just about the money. It’s about how workers are being treated by these big companies who think they can come in and then trample over workers when they’ve no more use for them. We have to stand up for ourselves because it doesn’t look like the Government is going to.”

Mandate retail divisional organiser Michael Meegan described the company’s treatment of its Irish staff as “deplorable”.

Mr Meegan, who was in the Liffey Valley store with the workers, said they had been loyal and hard-working and the company has just not given them any communication. “The women are very frustrated, panicking. Some are lone mothers, some the only earners in the family, some are students," he said.

While employees were guaranteed statutory redundancy “they could be waiting for a year for that,” he said.

“The point is the company is throwing the burden back on the tax-payers. They made big money here and must pay these, mainly low-paid, workers what they are owed.”

This evening KPMG said: “Staff made redundant as a result of company failure are entitled to claim for their statutory entitlements under the Insolvency Payments scheme.”

Asked about wages and overtime pay owed to staff by the La Senza company, KPMG was unable to comment.