FOREIGN companies which quit the Irish market due to financial problems should be forced to pay redundancy to staff who lose their jobs.
That’s according to county councillor Leo Walsh, whose daughter Emma, is at the centre of a sit in in the Game store in Cruises Street.
The video game retailer went into administration last week, with Price Waterhouse Coopers subsequently announcing the closure of all its stores in the Republic of Ireland.
These included nine staff working in the Limerick City branch in Cruises Street.
Since the devastating announcement on Tuesday, they have been staging a sit in in the city centre store after being told by the administrators that they will not be paying any redundancy - and the state will have to fork out for the bare minimum.
The staff have been taking turns sleeping on the floor.
Staff at 13 other Irish stores are also taking part in the protest and have been in negotiations with administrators to the company Price Waterhouse Coopers, while a number of staff - including former general manager Emma - were in Dail Eireann on Thursday to hear the issue being discussed local Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell raise the issue with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.
He wants the firm to explore the possibility of management buyouts, as was the case when Game closed its outlets in Portugal recently.
“Since the UK company is continuing to operate, I would also ask the company to look at ways of giving entitlements and compensation to workers who have lost their jobs, in a quick fashion,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“We are talking about a number of decent people with young families, who have served Game for up to 15 years in Limerick,” he added.
Fine Gael councillor Walsh described the treatment of workers as “shocking and unfair”
“I’d fully support their actions. It is a worrying sign for other companies, and people who have mortgages are being left high and dry. It is not fair that a company like this can just walk away from its responsibilities.”
“The government should bring in legislation to make it compulsory for companies to behave in a proper manner when these situations occur,” Cllr Walsh added.
Emma Walsh, who has worked for Game for seven years, said the group has had strong support from the general public.
“Luckily some customers have dropped in sleeping bags, and we have gotten a blown up bed from somebody. But at the moment, one of the beds is a load of boxes,” she said.
She rejected claims by Game - which still operates in several countries throughout Europe, including Northern Ireland - that it cannot pay redundancy. “We feel the company should pay us redundancy: they are still operating in the UK, albeit under administration. They are claiming that there is no money in the pot to pay staff redundancy, but we are sitting on stock which could be used as funds to pay staff,” she said.