IBEC’s position on Clerys review a direct challenge to new government

12 May 2016


Labour Party Senator Ged Nash has hit out at comments by employers’ body IBEC which is warning against the introduction of new legislation aimed at preventing situations such as the liquidation of Clerys.   

IBEC was responding to the Duffy-Cahill report which examined employment and company law following the closure of Clerys, commissioned by the last government and published two weeks ago.   

The iconic store closed down overnight in June last year, with the loss of 460 jobs.  50 small businesses which had concessions in Clerys also lost hundreds of thousands of euros when the department store was liquidated after it was sold by Gordon Brothers to Natrium.

Since the shock closure, Ged Nash has been leading efforts to ensure that employment law is reformed and company law is properly enforced and reviewed to help to avoid situations like this from arising in the future.  

Senator Nash said, “Today, IBEC has broken their long silence on the Clery’s tragedy. The timing of this intervention is telling and it will be seen as a warning shot to the new Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation that the work which has already commenced to bring changes to the law to protect workers and small businesses in this area should be stopped in its tracks. I disagree vehemently.” 

“Nobody disputes that there may be remedies available under existing Company Law provisions which may have the capacity to address the manner in which this liquidation was effected. This is precisely why the State in recent weeks has engaged expert advice to examine the options available to it under the Companies Act 2014.  

“It is the grey area between company law and employment law, and where these two bodies of law intersect that interests me. 

“What happened at Clery’s and the fallout for workers who were left on the street and indeed the concession holders who were left high and dry has been condemned by all quarters in society. It was nothing short of a national scandal. 

“There are gaps in employment law which have allowed these types of corporate restructures to occur with few apparent consequences for anyone other than the employees whose jobs disappeared over night.  

“The Duffy-Cahill report identifies some of the ways in which these gaps can be plugged. It is warranted that a way should be found to ensure that there is an obligation to consult employees before any collective redundancies can take effect – irrespective of whether an employer is insolvent or not. Equally, the proposal to increase the compensation arrangements from 4 weeks pay to two years where the right to a 30 day consultation is not respected should be progressed.  

“Good employers and ethical businesses have nothing to fear from any proposed changes to the law. 

“The bottom line is that the State should not be left on the hook to pay redundancies in every circumstance and particularly where corporate restructuring may have been used to avoid a company’s obligations to their employees. 

“Equally, workers should be afforded the dignity of having to be consulted before the effects of any restructuring sees their jobs vanish into thin air. 

“The new Minister for Jobs should make an immediate statement outlining her plans to advance the proposals in the Duffy-Cahill report.”

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