Belfast Telegraph

Primark Bank Buildings staff to get another week's pay and could be redeployed: Union

By Jonathan Bell

Primark's Belfast Bank Buildings store staff are to get another week of pay and could be redeployed to other shops, a shop workers union has said.

Last week the store was gutted after a fire broke out on the roof. The resulting blaze took three days to extinguish and as well as concerns over the future of those that work in the store the historic building may also have to be demolished given the devastation.

Around 360 staff worked in the store which had was in the process of having a £30million extension built.  An exclusion zone has had to be set around the building as investigations continue into the extent of the damage leading to businesses in the area calling for clarity over what will happen. Around a dozen businesses in the exclusion zone have had to close.

Shop workers' union Usdaw met with management on Tuesday. It praised the response of the company in the wake of the devastating fire.

It said its representatives, staff and Primark management will meet with Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey on Tuesday evening.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis  said: “We are grateful to the mayor for hosting this meeting, which provides an opportunity to explore the support our members will receive following the devastating fire at the Belfast city centre store.

“Usdaw reps met with the company today and they have updated us on what we believe is a short-term comprehensive response, having confirmed that they will pay staff for next week’s contracted hours.

“Our members are clearly worried about their future and they need reassurances.  Primark have agreed to attend tonight’s meeting to listen to the concerns of their staff. Usdaw reps will reconvene with the company tomorrow lunchtime to secure long-term support for the staff.”

Michala Laverty, a representative for Usdaw praised Primark for its immediate response saying the firm was considering redeployment of staff to other stores. Although she did say the number involved could be the challenge for the retailer.

She said the shock of the fire for the 360 staff involved was slowly being eroded and replaced by anxiety for the longer term future of staff.

All indications from the company, she said, were about job security and keeping the Belfast workforce together and providing them with an income.

The union representative also praised the Belfast public and business for their support. Taxi drivers had offered free lifts, locksmiths changed locks free of charge and even the shop's customers had been in touch offering cash donations.

"It's amazing," she told the BBC.

Primark has been approached for a comment.

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