Staff begin sit-in over job losses

STAFF at a 4HOME store in north Cork yesterday began a sit-in after being told they were to lose their jobs from the weekend.

The 16 workers at the store in New Square, Mitchelstown, are among a total of 40 who are due to lose their jobs in three closures. Apart from Mitchelstown, 4HOME is also to close stores in Patrick Street in Fermoy with the loss of eight jobs and Annacotty, Co Limerick, with the loss of 16 jobs.

Lorraine O’Brien, of Mandate, representing the workers in Fermoy and Mitchelstown, said in both locations the staff had been brought in and handed their RP50 notices of redundancy and told the stores were to close at the weekend.

She said they were told they would merely receive statutory redundancy of two weeks’ pay per year of employment, along with notice payments, even though some staff had service of more than 38 years.

Ms O’Brien said there was no prior notice given to staff that their jobs were in jeopardy or any negotiation with the union about the redundancies.

“The workers have told me they will be operating a sit-in protest due to the failure of the company to engage in any meaningful consultation with them or their union,” she said.

“They have said they will not be moving from their current position without proper discussions with Mandate and they are prepared to hold out for ‘as long as necessary’ in order to make their position known.

“This is clearly a situation neither the union nor the workers want protracted any longer than necessary and it was not an easy decision for the workers to make,” Ms O’Brien said.

Last night she met with workers in the Fermoy store to discuss what course of action they want to follow.

A company spokesman said it acknowledged the sense of anger and hurt that staff understandably feel when a business closure occurs, but said the company had no option but to close the three stores this week.

“It is no longer viable for the company to sustain the continuing operation of the stores as a consequence of the severe impact of the recession on the DIY and homeware sector,” he said.

He also confirmed that Reox Holdings plc, 4HOME’s parent company is in negotiation with Dairygold Co-op with regard to the prospect of Dairygold taking over the operation of the company’s seven remaining 4HOME stores in Munster.

Those stores are located in Carrigaline, Cashel, Fermoy (Dublin Rd), Mallow, Midleton, Mitchelstown (Clonmel Rd) and Raheen.

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