Saturday 25 March 2017

Eason to axe 140 jobs in battle for survival

John Spain Books Editor

SOME 140 staff will lose their jobs at book chain Eason as part of a tough survival plan.

Under new proposals -- which will be put to 1,200 employees in a ballot before Christmas -- new staff will start on €9, just above the minimum wage, and overtime will be cut from double pay to time-and-a-half.

Other measures include introducing a pay cap of €12 an hour -- down from €14.50 an hour -- for most floor staff.

And all staff will be switched to a new contract which will see them rostered to work any five shifts in a six-day week so that Saturdays are also covered.

Eason has seen a fall in turnover of 30pc since its peak in trading four years ago.

In a letter to unions in August, management said it had to cut annual costs by around €8m, or close at least nine of its branches by the end of this year.

Lengthy talks between management and unions on a survival plan have been going on since the summer at the Labour Relations Commission.

Voluntary

Siptu, which represents 1,000 employees, said all the redundancies would be voluntary and would take place over 12 months as new technology was introduced into the business.

Consultations are now taking place between Siptu, Mandate and Eason management on the ballot. A management spokesman said yesterday that it was hoped it would be completed before Christmas.

Karen O'Loughlin, Siptu organiser for the wholesale and retail sector, said that if the plan was accepted, the changes would begin in January.

Eason has been a leading part of the book trade in Ireland for more than a century. It currently has 60 stores around the country.

The landmark O'Connell Street store celebrated its 125th birthday at the end of September, with many leading authors like Cecelia Ahern in attendance.

Many famous names have done book signings in the store, from U2 and David Beckham, to Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

The bookstore once counted playwright Sean O'Casey as an employee, but he was sacked for refusing to remove his cap when collecting his wages.

Irish Independent

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