Former Clerys workers protest outside the store

Siptu members demand justice for ex-staff at entrance to the Dublin department store

Former Clerys workers stage protest  outside the store in O’Connell Street, Dublin. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Former Clerys workers stage protest outside the store in O’Connell Street, Dublin. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

About 80 Siptu representatives protested on Friday afternoon outside an entrance to Clerys on Dublin’s North Earl Street which is being used as a bag drop-off point for shoppers in the city centre.

The protest included former Clerys workers, as well as their family and friends.

The demonstrators called for justice for the former Clerys workers following the sudden closure of the department store last year and chanted: “Deirdre Foley you’re no good, treat your workers like you should.”

On June 12th, 2015, Clerys was sold by its previous owners, the US Gordon Brothers group, to Natrium Ltd, which comprises Ms Foley’s investment group D2 Private and Cheyne Capital Management.

The department store’s 460 workers, including 130 directly employed staff and 330 indirectly employed staff, were made redundant hours after the sale.

Ms Foley has since refused to meet the workers or their representatives.

Staff subsequently only received statutory redundancy.

At the protest, Gerry Markey, who had been a shop steward at Clerys and had worked there for 34 years, said that the group had decided on the protest at the conclusion of Siptu’s two-day conference in Liberty Hall on Friday.

“We heard Deirdre Foley had opened up a place here for shoppers’ bags, sponsored by Dublin Town,” he said.

Dublin Town is an initiative by Dublin city centre’s businesses to promote the area.

Mr Markey said Ms Foley had ignored all requests from him and his former colleagues for meetings with her.

He said their priority now was the implementation of legislation that would ensure that what they had experienced at Clerys could not be repeated in Ireland.

Meeting

Efforts by the former workers to meet Minister for Enterprise and Employment Mary Mitchell O’Connor to discuss the issue had also been unsuccessful, he said.

“The first time we asked [to meet Ms O’Connor] there was no reply and the other two times she said she was too busy,” he said.

His former colleague Mary Sheridan noted how a massive poster across the Clerys window on O’Connell Street read: “Christmas Starts Here.”

“It doesn’t for the Clerys workers,” she said.

“It’s an insult to them, landed with no severance pay and dropped like that. It’s disgusting. That’s the sort of Trump capitalism we have to be wary of,” she said.

Dublin Town was unavailable for comment.