4Home sit-in ends after talks plan agreed

A HIGH-profile sit-in protest by staff at a north Cork 4Home store has been called off after management agreed to meet with worker representatives for showdown talks on Monday.

The protest began on Thursday after staff were told the store at New Square in Mitchelstown was due to close this weekend with the loss of 16 jobs. However, after a two-day sit-in by Mandate trade union workers, it has been agreed that the protest will be called off before showdown talks with management at the start of next week.

Staff involved in the protest were due to return to work today as part of the negotiated agreement, while management have also agreed to rescind letters sent to protesting employees which threatened them with dismissal.

Should talks fail on Monday the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) has also made itself available for discussions from Tuesday.

Tensions had been raised between staff and 4Home management after workers in Mitchelstown and two other stores — in Fermoy, Co Cork, and Annacotty, Co Limerick — were told the branches were due to close.

The Mitchelstown staff began their sit-in when told of the closure and that they would receive the statutory redundancy of two weeks’ pay per year of employment, along with notice payments.

At the height of the stand-off, 4Home operations manager John Lawlor had warned protesting staff that even this payment was under threat as their actions “may warrant the termination of your contract of employment without notice”.

However, a spokesperson for 4Home managementexplained last night that after both sides agreed to meet on Monday the threat was no longer in place.

While welcoming the move, Lorraine O’Brien of the Mandate trade union said there were still concerns over the employment safety of the staff involved.

Management at 4Home have previously said the firm can no longer continue operating the stores due to the severe impact of the recession on the DIY sector.

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