M&S workers vote for industrial action

by Gazette Reporter

WORKERS are set to down tools at Marks and Spencer in Dun Laoghaire following a ballot in which 88% of workers opted to take industrial action.
Some 26 workers in the George’s Street Marks and Spencer store are among 180 who were notified in the first week of August that they would be forced to take redundancies at stores in Dun Laoghaire, Tallaght, Mullingar and Naas. All four stores have since closed.
Mandate balloted all of its members for industrial action on Friday, August 16, following a breakdown in talks in the Labour Relations Commission the day before.
David Gibney, Mandate communications officer, told The Gazette: “Workers voted 88% in favour of industrial action. The company is making all workers take compulsory redundancy from September 12. All four stores are now closed, but the workers are still there getting stock ready for removal.
“The company is refusing to discuss other options than redundancies, or to redeploy the workers to other stores where vacancies exist.
“We want them to offer voluntary redundancies across all of their stores and, that way, those close to retirement age can avail of it, while others can transfer to other stores.
“The company said no to this, and gave no reason. We may seek another ballot from the open stores to support us so we can picket outside them.  We may extend our industrial action if they don’t engage with us,” he said.
Jonathan Glenister, head of Ireland for Marks and Spencer, said: “We’re disappointed by the result. We are hopeful that this situation can be resolved quickly so that we can proceed with wider negotiations.
“We have been very clear and honest from the start of this process that, unfortunately, there are no redeployment opportunities available to our employees affected by the four store closures, and [we] remain committed to reaching agreement as soon as possible around the terms of redundancy.”
Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said: “The closure [of the store] may at last force the council to review its strategy for the town centre.”
He went on to say problems of business rates and upward-only rent reviews in the county had caused more than 40 shops to close in Dun Laoghaire.
In response to the news, a council spokesperson said: “The council is very disappointed with the news that Marks and Spencer is to close its store in Dun Laoghaire.
“While the council has no role in dealing with upward-only rents, we have [had] reduced commercial rates in the county in three of the past four years.”

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