Sudden hotel closure sparks sit-in by staff
A DRAMATIC sit-in by hotel staff yesterday, staged after they were laid off for three months without warning, was called off last night after management gave them a written commitment that the hotel would re-open by mid-March.
About 80 staff at the Montrose Hotel in Dublin 4 said they would not leave the building unless they were given written guarantees from management about their future with the hotel.
The sit-in was called immediately after a meeting between management and staff at 10.30am in which staff were told the hotel was closing with immediate effect in order to carry out renovations.
However, management did not give workers a date for the re-opening of the hotel.
Head barman Charlie Murphy (44) said he was stunned by the news and took part in the sit-in because "we have to try and hold out and negotiate for something -- a bit of hope, because at the moment, people feel as though there is no hope".
Head waitress Helen Catchpole (62), whose husband is also an employee, said the staff had received a phonecall on Monday night about yesterday's meeting.
She added: "There was no warning. We don't know whether we're out of jobs totally or until Easter or what. They're not promising that it's re-open".
Ann Kielty, one of the hotel's lounge staff, said no redundancy had been offered. "We've a lot of long-term staff here -- people here for 40 years and more -- and nobody is interested in discussing redundancy.
"We have tried discussing it with the hotel. We have had grave concerns. We knew business was bad and we wanted to protect our jobs but nobody would talk to us," she said.
Long-term guest Gary Moss (60) from Galway, who works as the commercial manager in UCD, has stayed at the hotel three nights a week for 10 years. He said the sudden closure of the hotel was "very sad, a terrible loss....It's been a nice old-fashioned hotel".
A sign on the door from general manager Jerry Russell advised customers that the hotel was temporarily closed for renovations and "we hope to reopen in the future".
Guests with reservations were offered a phone number to make alternative arrangements.
Last night, the SIPTU branch organiser for hotels, Paul Henry said the sit-in ended after staff were given a commitment from management that the hotel would re-open in mid-March and that any changes to their current terms and conditions would be preceded by a consultation process.
Property developer Bernard McNamara is understood to have sold his stake in the hotel at least a year ago. However, the McNamara group continues to be involved in the day-to-day running of the hotel.