Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Clerys workers welcome 'goodwill payment' by investors

Former Clerys workers have said a "goodwill payment" by investors who bought the store will be like Christmas for employees who lost their jobs.

The offer came from investment engine Natrium as it seeks to push ahead with a 150 million euro redevelopment and reopen the landmark building on Dublin's O'Connell Street in three years.

The detail of the deal brokered with the Justice for the Clerys Workers group is confidential but it is understood sums of money will be paid in the next eight weeks.

Gerry Markey, campaign spokesman, said: "The goodwill payment is a bonus.

"It is not something we went looking for. But I know for one particular lady, she's a lone parent with two children, it'll be like having all her Christmases coming together. It'll help her get out of a hole."

Natrium - the investment engine formed by Deirdre Foley's D2 Private and London-based fund manager Cheyne Capital - struck a deal with the former workers after a planning hearing opened into the redevelopment on Monday.

Backed by trade union Siptu, the former employees are no longer challenging the plans.

Natrium will redevelop Clerys and adjacent properties as a hotel, offices, shops and restaurants. It previously said it will be "an important catalyst" in the revival of O'Connell Street as one of Europe's great thoroughfares.

The landmark building and clock will play a central role in the plans.

Twenty-one months ago Clerys was shut down overnight with the loss of more than 460 jobs.

Natrium had bought the building, which traded as a department store for more than 160 years, from Boston-based Gordon Brothers.

Staff were given no notice and concession holders threatened legal action after being locked out from getting stock and amid concerns that they were owed two million euro from sales which was held in trust.

The state paid about 2.5 million euro in statutory redundancy to workers.

The new deal with the Justice for the Clerys Workers includes cash payments and a commitment to fair working conditions for those employed on the redevelopment and those who are hired when it reopens.

A liaison and employment officer will be taken on for former Clerys workers to contact about possible jobs.

There will also be potential trainee roles for people living in the north-east inner city.

Ms Foley said the deal was in the best interests of everyone.

"We are looking forward to creating something in Dublin city centre which we hope will be renowned and will create a catalyst for change within the north-east inner city and for O'Connell Street itself," she said.

John Finn, another former worker and campaigner, said: "It's a victory for the working man.

"What this has done is that it has highlighted certain loopholes in the law which will be hopefully changed."

Siptu services division organiser Ethel Buckley said: "Above all else, the settlement shows that when workers effectively organise themselves into a union in the workplace, are loyal to one another and are willing to fight for the common good, significant progress can be made."

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