Mandate has condemned Dunnes Stores for using staff as pawns in a property dispute over a side entrance.
More than 100 workers have been affected by the sudden closure of the Dunnes outlet in Gorey, Co Wexford, on Thursday night.
Mandate said Dunnes was using the livelihoods of the workers as a protest against a court injunction granted on Thursday that demanded they close the side entrance to the business. Mandate general secretary John Douglas said the company’s behaviour was despicable and grossly irresponsible.
“There are 100 families in Wexford who have no idea whether they’ll have a job next week or not. All because Dunnes Stores have broken a lease agreement with their property management agent and they stubbornly refuse to abide by a court injunction. This shows the level of contempt Dunnes Stores have for their own staff and the arrogance they have when it comes to abiding by the laws of the land.”
In a letter to traders in the shopping centre yesterday, the property management agent wrote that Dunnes had opened a door leading directly to the surface car park last November.
The opening of the door meant that customers could by-pass the smaller traders on the mall and was a clear breach of their lease obligations, the agent wrote.
Dunnes, an anchor store in the centre since 2002, was asked to close the door on numerous occasions but refused to engage on the issue.
“To protect the business of the small traders on the mall the receiver sought an injunction to force Dunnes Stores to close the door to the surface car park and that injunction was granted... pending a formal arbitration hearing,” the agent wrote.
Following the court’s decision, Dunnes decided to close the store immediately.
Notices were posted on the doors of the Gorey store at 6pm on Thursday saying the shop would be closed until further notice.
About 20 workers turned up for work yesterday morning but were told they would be doing so “behind closed doors”. Those on the afternoon and evening shift were told not to report for duty.
Mandate represents around 70 of the Dunnes’ workers. It said the company should do the “responsible thing” by immediately engaging with the workers’ representatives and the property management agent to protect the the business and the 100 jobs at risk.
Mr Douglas said the anxiety, uncertainty, and stress the development had caused workers was totally unnecessary and unacceptable. “Senior management in Dunnes Stores should be ashamed of themselves.
“It’s bad enough that the company won’t give their workers secure hours and a living wage, but now they’re playing games with people’s lives over a side entrance to the business.”
Dunnes Stores management declined to comment on its decision to close the Gorey store.
The union met with the workers last night to discuss the situation. Following the meeting Mr Douglas said that a representative group of workers would meet local management today. Another meeting of workers will take place on Monday, at which a plan of action will be devised that may involve other Dunnes Stores in the area.
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