Minister Bruton refuses to intervene in Wallis Dispute

Minister Bruton refuses to intervene in Wallis Dispute
Willie O’Dea TD has said he is extremely disappointed that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD has refused to intervene in the industrial dispute between the retail chain Wallis and workers of their former Cruises Street store over redundancy payments. Minister Bruton was responding to a Parliamentary Question (See below) tabled by Deputy O’Dea on the matter. Wallis have refused to honour a long standing redundancy agreement which guaranteed 5 weeks pay per year of service. Instead the company are offering only 2.75 weeks per year of service, including the statutory payment of 2 weeks. 

Willie O’Dea TD said, “It is extremely disappointing that Minister Bruton has refused to intervene in the dispute between the retail chain Wallis and workers of their former Cruises Street store over redundancy payments as in my opinion, this enormous multi-national company have cast aside basic employment rights and obviously feel they can do what they like in this country.

“In his reply, the Minister welcomes the fact that talks were scheduled between Wallis and the staff concerned. However, having met with the group of former workers who are picketing the Wallis Store at Childers Road Retail Park again since these talks took place, I was shocked to hear that at the negotiations, the company took their original offer off the table and instead offered the former workers significantly less than what brought them out on strike.

“This is contemptuous behaviour from a company who paid a massive €92 million dividend to their parent group Arcadia, which is in turn controlled by the billionaire business man Sir Philip Greene. The former employees, who have given decades of loyal service between them, are being treated extremely shoddily by the company.

“As a result of the breakdown in the talks, I am again calling on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton to intervene directly in order to bring a resolution to this dispute.”

Parliamentary Question

To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he is aware of the current industrial dispute at Wallis in Limerick City; if he is concerned at the company’s possible reneging on an agreement to pay its staff a redundancy package of 5 weeks per year of service and now proposing to pay 2.75 weeks per year of service; if he is willing to intervene directly in this dispute and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

– Willie O’Dea.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 3rd October, 2013.

    Ref No: 41608/13 


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Bruton)

I propose to take Questions No. 123 and No. 125 together.

I understand that the dispute revolves around redundancy terms offered to 10 staff that were based in the Cruises St branch which closed down recently and that similar terms are being offered to staff based in the Childers Rd branch which is to undergo restructuring. It is also my understanding that talks aimed at resolving the dispute have been scheduled since the start of this week and I welcome this development.

Ireland’s system of industrial relations is voluntary in nature and responsibility for the resolution of industrial relations issues lies ultimately with employers and workers and their respective representatives as appropriate. 

The State provides industrial relations mechanisms to assist parties in their efforts to resolve any differences they may have. I would urge the parties involved in this dispute to have regard to the availability of the industrial relations dispute resolution bodies to assist them in seeking a settlement and in addressing the underlying challenge of a major restructuring of the company. 

Experience constantly shows us that what often appears to be the most intractable of matters is capable of resolution where both sides engage constructively and in good faith in this voluntary process. The principle of good faith implies that both sides make every effort to reach an agreement and endeavour, through genuine and constructive negotiations, to resolve their differences.

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