Butcher's Block redundancies 'cold, clumsy, and lacked compassion'

Varadkar assures affected workers Government is there to help and says they will get redundancy payments
Butcher's Block redundancies 'cold, clumsy, and lacked compassion'

Butcher's Block staff were told there was no statutory holiday pay or redundancy to be paid, said Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould. Picture: David Creedon

The manner in which jobs at the Butcher’s Block shops were axed was “cold, clumsy, and lacked compassion,” the Government has said.

Responding to questions from Cork TDs Mick Barry and Thomas Gould, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government is there to assist the affected workers in Cork, Dungarvan, and in the Midlands.

Mr Gould said the 15 workers were made redundant by text message.

Some workers went in to find the shops had been cleared out and the doors locked, he said.

“They were told that there was no statutory holiday pay or redundancy to be paid, and workers were advised that the process for the Government to pay redundancy would take weeks, and that they should go to their local social welfare office for an urgent needs payment,” he said.

"It [was] six weeks out from Christmas. I know some of these people personally. 

Some of them have worked there for 18 and 20 years and this is how they are being treated by employers. Once again we have a situation where workers are at the bottom of the list when it comes to liquidations, when workers should be at the top.

The workers in the Butcher's Block have done nothing wrong but worked hard all of their lives. We are seeing unscrupulous employers in the tech sector and we see it here now, he said.

Mr Barry, during topical issues, wanted to know about back pay and holiday pay owed to the workers, as well as stating that tips jars were removed by the company.

In response, Mr Varadkar said he was very sorry to hear about the job losses at the Butcher's Block shops.

Employment rights

“I strongly encourage them to engage with the Intreo service and the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, as needs be,” he said.

"The Government is there to help and to make sure that employment rights are enforced. That means that the people affected will get their compulsory redundancy payments, even if we have to pay for them out of the Social Insurance Fund. Exceptional needs payments are available as needed, as is jobseeker's benefit while they try to find new jobs. 

“We can also help with education and training. I strongly encourage the people affected to engage with the State services because we are there to help,” he said.

Junior Minister Frank Feighan said he would relay the concerns articulated to the department but said he felt the treatment of the workers was clumsy, cold, and lacked compassion.

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