A CORK TD has called for more stringent employment laws to protect employee right.
Socialist Party TD Mick Barry was speaking in the Dáil following the closure of the Butcher’s Block outlets in Douglas Court and Blackpool shopping centres. Employees of the shops were left reeling this week after learning of the closure of their place of work. In some cases, staff only learned of the job losses shortly before they were due to start work last Saturday.
Deputy Barry said in his address that the situation was only compounded by what he described as the “outrageous inaction of the Minister of State’s Government.”
“I spoke to one couple who work there,” he said. “They are owed approximately €1500 in back pay and holiday pay. This is outrageous treatment from the former employer.
"Why might these workers have to go down the queue to get what is owed to them in liquidation? There has been an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from the ordinary people of Cork to these workers. What has happened to these workers has rung alarm bells for other workers. This needs to ring alarm bells for other working people. It is no great secret that a recession is on the way. It is no great secret either that the way these workers have been treated is far from exceptional.”
He compared the treatment to the approach of Twitter CEO, Elon Musk who informed employees of job losses via an email.
“It is only a couple of weeks since we saw one of the biggest names in international capitalism, namely Twitter, get a new owner,” he said. “The richest man in the world, Mr Elon Musk-the man who wants to colonise Mars-sacked workers in that company by way of an email. This is becoming more common.
"Given the type of hard-nosed employers we are dealing with in these situations, the message from me to the workers is the same as the message that was necessary 10 years ago and 100 years ago: organise, organise, organise. Tonight, however, I want to put the spotlight on the government and why there is not sufficient legislation there to fully protect these workers.”
Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould also raised the matter in the Dáil with Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar.
"Some workers went in to find the shops had been cleared out and the doors locked," he said. "It is six weeks out from Christmas. I know some of these people personally.
“Once again, we have a situation where workers are at the bottom of the list when it comes to liquidations when they should be at the top.
"The workers in the Butcher's Block have done nothing wrong but work hard all of their lives."