Saturday 16 December 2017

Job pledges of Clerys' new owners are hollow, say unions

Siptu organiser Teresa Hannick said Natrium finally issued a statement yesterday because they realised the workers and their supporters would not go away until they got justice
Siptu organiser Teresa Hannick said Natrium finally issued a statement yesterday because they realised the workers and their supporters would not go away until they got justice
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

Trade union leaders have accused the new owners of Clerys of making hollow, "wishy-washy" claims about the future of the store in an attempt to silence former workers.

Siptu organiser Teresa Hannick said Natrium finally issued a statement yesterday because they realised the workers and their supporters would not go away until they got justice.

The consortium that bought Clerys last week revealed plans to hire 1,000 construction workers for two years to renovate the building, which is the biggest shop in Dublin's biggest shopping area, and 1,700 new sustainable long-term jobs.

That means there is little chance the renovations could be completed ahead of the 1916 celebrations.

Concession holders at Clerys said yesterday that the liquidator should use his powers to "fully investigate" the running of Clerys over the past two years.

The liquidator should ensure the directors and company fully complied with their obligations under company law, a spokesman for the concession holders added.

Ms Hannick, who joined protesters outside the offices of Natrium yesterday, said until now the new owners of Clerys had refused to comment on their actions until they realised "that the workers and their supporters will not be going away until they get justice".

"The statement they released makes some wishy-washy claims about what they intend to do with the store. They must realise no one will listen to their hollow words until they meet with the Clerys workers," she added.

Business and Employment Minister Ged Nash wrote to the consortium last week saying that he was "anxious" to hear about the plans for the Clerys site.

"As the country prepares to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising, O'Connell Street will be at the centre of those celebrations," Mr Nash added.

The Natrium consortium, which combines UK cash with local investor Deirdre Foley's expertise, stunned the public and staff last week when it acquired the 162-year-old Clerys and staff were made immediately redundant.

Workers at the store were given just 30 minutes' notice to pack up and leave - some learned of the decision from the media.

Natrium's plans, which have not been approved by Dublin city council, involve turning Clerys into a mixture of shops and offices.

"This will be an important catalyst in the repositioning of O'Connell Street as one of the great thoroughfares of Europe and the iconic Clerys building and clock will play a central role," Natrium said in a statement.

Natrium said it had been advised "that all issues with respect to the liquidation of the operating company are legally a matter for the court-appointed liquidator."

Natrium added it would provide more "information and initial plans in the coming months".

Irish Independent

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