Athlone Laura Ashley workers to mount picket in support of striking Dublin colleagues
Friday 17 December 2010, 06pm
Workers employed at the Athlone branch of the multinational fashion & furniture retailer, Laura Ashley, will tomorrow (Saturday, 18 December) mount a picket at their store in support of their striking Dublin colleagues – who are members of the Mandate Trade Union. The workers at Dublin’s Grafton Street branch of Laura Ashley have been on strike since 22 October last over the minimal redundancy terms offered by their employer. Laura Ashley made bumper pre-tax profits of UK£10.5million for the 26 weeks to end July, 2010 with total turnover growing by 5.7% in that period to UK£135.1million.
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Mandate Trade Union Divisional Organiser, John Carty, explained that the Athlone workers voted almost unanimously to take industrial action to support their Dublin colleagues.
“In an act of breathtaking selflessness, the workers of Laura Ashley Athlone, have taken a stand against their employer’s unfair and unjust treatment of colleagues formerly employed in the Grafton Street branch. Their heroic behaviour is even more commendable considering the current economic climate we are now in and the fact that we are so close to Christmas.
“We hear much said by politicians and commentators about the importance of the spirit of community, well here is that spirit! People standing up for each other’s rights and entitlements and people fighting for what they believe is right and just. But let there be no illusions, the workers of Athlone are also fighting for themselves. They are well aware that if their Grafton Street colleagues are trodden all over by this British retailer then they may well be next,” said Mr. Carty.
Mandate’s John Carty set out the background to the dispute that originated in Dublin’s Grafton Street.
“On 24 September last, the 22 workers at Laura Ashley’s Grafton Street branch were informed that their roles were at risk due to the company’s intention to shut its doors within less then a month and sublet the premium retail space to the Disney Company. The company later informed the workers that it was only willing to offer statutory redundancy – the minimum allowed under law. It also insisted that all employees who wished to remain in employment with Laura Ashley would be obliged to undergo an interview and accept lesser working hours.
These terms were understandably not acceptable to the Grafton Street workers and they felt they had no option but to go on strike.”
John Carty pointed out that Laura Ashley has repeatedly refused invitations from the Labour Relations Commission to enter talks to try and resolve the situation.
“Despite this, we in Mandate remain available for talks to resolve this dispute and we sincerely hope that Laura Ashley will reconsider its refusal to avail of the services of the state’s labour relations machinery.”