Strike action begins at two Wallis stores in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Strike action: Workers picket outside Wallis in Childers Road this Monday
TWO pickets were set up in the city this week, as staff at a women’s clothes retailer began indefinite industrial action.

TWO pickets were set up in the city this week, as staff at a women’s clothes retailer began indefinite industrial action.

Wallis ceased trading in Cruises Street on Saturday, and the chain’s parent company Arcadia is seeking further redundancies from its remaining Limerick store on the Childers Road.

Workers are furious, claiming Wallis has reneged on an agreement to pay them a redundancy package of five weeks per year of service.

Instead, they say the firm is offering staff - some with almost 30 years of experience - 2.75 weeks per year of service.

Trade union Mandate has pointed out that Wallis has paid €92m to its parent company, the Arcadia group - controlled by billionaire businessman Sir Philip Green.

Wallis brought management in from other units across the country to ensure it kept trading this Monday.

Corbally woman Clare White, a former deputy manager, with 25 years employment in Wallis, said the public have been supportive of their cause.

She says workers will remain on strike for as long as it takes to bring Wallis to the table.

“I have a mortgage, I have children, I pay bills. We just want what is fair. They have torn up the agreement. They want to restructure and reschedule us here, and they will not compensate us for loss of earnings,” she said.

Ms White added she feels “deflated”, saying: “I thought I was very loyal, and I thought the company would have been loyal back to me. Within the workers here, we have over 200 years of service.”

Wallis employs 11 people in its store in the Childers Road.

But it is seeking to cut this to nine people, and has asked all staff to re-apply for their jobs.

Six staff have been made redundant following the closure of Wallis in Cruises Street - but Ms White says they are standing with staff still employed in solidarity.

Mandate organiser Karen Wall says the action shows the workers “are absolutely determined the company is not going to walk over them.”

She added : “Some of them have said they have given the best years of their life to the company and are devastated at the way they are being treated.”

Although management have yet to address workers, Ms Wall said the people of Limerick have been fully supportive - with many choosing not to shop at Wallis while the strike is ongoing.

“These are the ladies who serve them every week, and they support them. But when they see the €92m the company has transferred to the parent company, it says it all: that the workers have been treated absolutely deplorably,” she concluded.

Arcadia were not available for comment.