Up to 16 employees at two Game video games stores in Cork city have begun a sit-in to “fight for their rights” after their British employer refused to pay them anything beyond statutory redundancy.
Seven staff at the St Patrick Street branch and nine at the Mahon Point Shopping Centre branch were last night awaiting the outcome of a meeting between store managers and the company in Dublin.
The Cork stores were among 14 shops in Ireland and 263 in Britain which closed earlier this week after the gaming specialists went into administration.
Staff at the St Patrick Street branch stayed there overnight, while staff at Mahon Point returned yesterday morning to begin their protest.
Game district development manager James Daley said the employees are not prepared to let anyone remove stock or strip the store until they have been fairly treated.
He said the company is still trading in Britain where it remains a “viable entity” and should be able to pay a more substantial compensation package.
Mr Daley also criticised the company for failing to give employees and the state the required 30 day notice of redundancy. The employees are seeking this 30 days of their salary in addition to an improved compensation package.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We have to fight for our rights.”
Meanwhile, up to 130 council workers downed tools and held a protest outside their headquarters yesterday in a row over the suspension of two colleagues.
The picket was staged outside the Waterford County Council building in Dungarvan by the Unite trade union, which accused the local authority of a breach of the Croke Park agreement on public service work practices.
According to Unite, the council suspended two workers “after refusing to give assurances over future employment” in the event of changes in the management of the county’s water services.
A general meeting of the outdoor staff held on Monday night voted not to go to work yesterday morning and to stage a protest seeking the reinstatement of the workers involved.
The picket is likely to continue today according to Unite regional officer Tony Kelly.
“We’ll be here as long as it takes,” he said last night. “We’ll be back here [protesting] unless it’s resolved.”
It is understood that some council services were affected by the action but water-quality monitoring was maintained by staff.
“The action that was taken by the council breaks the agreement which it has with the people who deliver its services,” Mr Kelly said.
“It is in breach of the general Croke Park agreement and is a breach of trust with staff who have never failed to come to the assistance of the community when times are hard because of extreme weather or other circumstances.”
He said he hoped “sense will prevail” and the workers will be reinstated and that the issues can be discussed “in a calm, clear manner”.
In a statement, Waterford County Council said that it has been negotiating with Unite since Jun 2011, “in accordance with commitments entered into under the Croke Park Agreement” to reorganise the delivery of services “in the context of an ongoing reduction in employee numbers”.
A “revised” operational structure for roads and water services was due to be implemented on Monday but the council said “a number of employees failed to co-operate with the changes”.
The strike is “unofficial”, according to the council, which said the union had not referred its dispute to the Labour Relations Commission or Labour Court for arbitration.
“The Croke Park Agreement also provides a commitment that trade unions and employees will co-operate with implementation of change pending the outcome of the industrial relations process,” it said.
“Strikes or other forms of industrial action by trade unions or employees are precluded under the Croke Park Agreement and the council is presently seeking to resolve the dispute in accordance with the nationally agreed mechanism.”
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