Staff sleeping in petrol station ask landlord to help them end sit-in

The Highway 6 have pleaded with the filling station landlord to help end their week-old sit-in after securing a major breakthrough yesterday.

The six staff members, who spent their eighth night last night sleeping on the floor of the former Texaco filling station shop in Ballyvolane, in the northside of Cork city, in pursuit of redundancy payments, said Joyce O'Callaghan, who owns the site, could allow them go home to their families today if she issued a single letter to their former employer, Highway Retail.

"A single piece of paper would get us home," former staff member, Deirdre Cregan said.

Her emotional plea came hours after the workers secured a commitment in writing from Highway Retail that it will pay redundancy if a new operator does not take over the business.

Highway Retail shut down the filling station last Tuesday after handing the lease back to Ms O'Callaghan. It is understood they failed to secure a rent reduction.

However, independent filling station operator, Applegreen, is understood to be poised to take over the business.

It was not clear last night whether it has signed contracts with Ms O'Callaghan or not, but a company, Applegreen North Ring Road, has been established. Applegreen has not responded to media queries.

Cork North Central Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien met representatives of Highway Retail yesterday.

"They have given certain clarifications to the workers around redundancy and other issues, and I passed those on to the workers who are now considering that," he said.

Ms Cregan said Highway has now asked Ms O'Callaghan for confirmation and details about who the new operator of the filling station will be so that it can pass on employee details to them.

Highway believes a transfer of undertakings is in place which would see the workers transfer to a new operator.

Mr Cregan said 'the dogs on the street' know it will be Applegreen. "We are now pleading with the landlady to furnish that information to Highway Retail and let us go home," she said.

The workers said the sit-in will continue until they get the clarification they need. Today will be the eighth day of their protest.


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