Livelihoods at stake as Dunnes closes in Gorey
THE staff at Dunnes Stores in Gorey continued to turn up to work over the weekend as rostered, despite the busy store closing its doors on Thursday evening in a dispute with the shopping centre over the opening of doors at the front of the store directly to the surface car park.
An interim court injunction was granted on Thursday to the Receiver of the shopping centre forcing Dunnes to close the front doors pending a formal arbitration hearing. The store was remodelled in recent months, and the counter for the clothing and homeware department was relocated near the doors which lead directly onto the surface car park. The managing agents said the doors impacted directly on the retailers in the shopping centre mall. News broke at teatime on Thursday that the store was closing with immediate effect after managers at the store called staff to a meeting, but no explanation for the closure was given. Notices were also placed at the premises informing customers of the move, saying the store would be closing 'until further notice.'
The trade union, Mandate, which represents some 70 of the more than 100 workers at the store, immediately issued a statement saying it was a shocking way to treat the staff. It called on the company to immediately engage and to end the confusion and uncertainty for the workers.
John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary, said 'for Dunnes Stores managers to make this announcement in this way is insensitive and a disgraceful way to treat their staff.'
Cllr Pip Breen, who went to the store on Thursday after the news broke, said that staff appeared to be caught unawares by the news, but none were willing to talk to him.
'Everybody was in shock,' he said. 'The shelves were stocked to the last. This seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction to the court case.'
'Everybody is holding their breath because it is a very profitable store,' he continued, calling on Dunnes Stores to settle their differences with the shopping centre. 'Too many livelihoods are at stake. The reputation of Gorey is at stake. It's one of the flagship stores in the town. Surely a consensus can be reached and common sense can take over.'
On Friday, after the reason for the closure became apparent, the union blasted the company for using the workers as 'pawns' in 'what appears to be a petty dispute.'
A behind closed doors meeting was held with the union and workers in Gorey on Friday night.