LIMERICK retail staff moved a major step forward to a resolution in their dispute with Ivan’s this week.
Close to 30 staff have barricaded themselves into the store for the last two weeks in protest over unpaid wages following the closure of the landmark store, which came after 40 years trading.
However, this Monday, a delegation of three employees, employment rights officer Frank McDonnell and Deputy Willie O’Dea met with a representative of Deloitte, acting on behalf of owners the Cremins family, in a bid to bring a resolution.
The crisis talks at the Greenhills Hotel have resulted in a commitment that any cheques which have bounced will be handed over in cash to workers this Wednesday, while forms required to speed up the workers’ claims for social welfare would be signed off by the end of the week.
On top of this, references are expected to be provided.
The meeting came after workers began to picket the neighbouring Post Office, which remains in operation.
However, the escalation of action was withdrawn, Mr McDonnell says, “as a gesture of goodwill” following the talks.
But he said the occupation of Ivan’s will continue until all the worker’s requests have been satisfied.
Speaking to the Limerick Chronicle, Mr O’Dea voiced his sympathy for the staff, who have remained camped out at the Ennis Road store for almost 14 days.
“Nobody should be forced to do this. They have shown great restraint. I have seen many sit-ins and protests during my time in the Dail, and this is one of the most peaceful disputes I have ever seen,” he said.
The former Defence Minister also praised the workers for not deciding to escalate their dispute earlier.
“ They are very responsible people. They had the option to escalate their dispute, and it would have turned into a very confrontational situation. They didn’t do that, so therefore the onus is on the company and its creditors to bring the matter to a satisfactory resolution so people can get on with their lives,” he added.
Businesses and members of the community across the northside have continued their backing for the workers made redundant.
For his part, the store founder Ivan Cremins has previously said his family are “devastated” at the events which led to the closure.
He blamed this on the opening of three supermarkets in the vicinity of his store, and the repeal of the law allowing the sale of goods below cost price.
But in a statement, Mr Cremins assured staff that “they will receive all their entitlements and the necessary arrangements are being made to put this in place.”