Petrol station staff continue sit-it despite claims jobs are safe

The staff sit-in at a Cork filling station is set to continue into a second week despite claims from its former operator that the business has been taken over and the jobs are safe.

The six former workers of the Highway Retail-run Texaco fuel station in the city’s north ring road maintained their sit-in at the weekend after defying a legal warning on Thursday to vacate the building or face an injunction.

They were warned that they would be held liable for rent and for any loss to stock, worth around €18,000.

Their former employers contacted them by email over the weekend and said a new operator is set to take over the business.

A director of Highway Retail, Lorraine McCloskey, told her former staff that the Texaco station lease was terminated on October 31 and that the staff’s employment had been transferred to the new operator on that date under the terms of the European Communities (Protection of Employees’ Rights on a Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003.

“These regulations provide that the employees transferring across to a new employer must move across with their accrued years of service as well as their existing terms and conditions of employment, with an exception only in relation to pensions,” said Ms McCloskey.

“Given that your employment is eligible for transfer, a redundancy situation does not arise in this instance and Highway Retail Ltd cannot be considered liable for any redundancy payments.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your service with Highway Retail Ltd and to wish you all of the best for your future career.”

However, Ms McCloskey did not identify the new operator and there has been no further communication with the six staff members.

The staff, who began the sit-in last Tuesday, said they will maintain the occupation of the filling station shop until they get clarification in writing from either their former employers, or their new employers, about the situation.

There is now mounting speculation that leading independent forecourt retailer Applegreen could be poised to take over the business. However, the company did not respond to queries over the weekend.

In July, Applegreen announced plans to create 360 jobs over the next 18 months. The company is investing €30m in an expansion programme and plans to build six service stations by the end of 2015.

Each station will employ 60 people, with 250 construction jobs created during the building phase.


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