Sinn Féin - On Your Side

La Senza sit-in - government must act to protect vulnerable workers

11 January, 2012 - by Seán Crowe TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Fein TDs Mary Lou McDonald and Sean Crowe today welcomed representatives from the Le Senza Liffey Valley sit-in to the Dáil to watch a topical issues debate calling on the government to “act to protect vulnerable workers”. The Sinn Fein deputies strongly supported the action taken by the workers and called on the government “to intervene to ensure that workers reasonable demands are met”.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The way in which the 93 La Senza workers were made redundant this week is totally unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable for workers to be told on a Monday morning that they no longer have a job. It is unacceptable for the employer to withhold wages and overtime for hours worked. It is unacceptable for employees to be left with no redundancy package by their employer.

“Sinn Fein strongly supports the decision by the staff to occupy the Liffey Valley retail outlet. Their demands are reasonable and justified. They are simply asking to be paid for the hours that they worked and to be treated with respect. Any right minded person would support such demands.

Deputy Crow said:

“I want to commend them for the stand they have taken, not just in defence of their own rights and entitlements, but in defence of all workers, particularly in the retail sector.

“More should have been done to save these jobs. La Senza has been having difficulties. However the Dublin and Cork outlets were busy during the Christmas and New Year sales. While the long term future of the shops may have been uncertain there is simply no excuse for the workers to be treated in this way.

“The employers should have worked with the staff and their union representatives to save these jobs.’ ENDS

Full text of the speeches given by deputies McDonald and Crowe during today’s topical issue debate on the Le Senza redundancies and sit-in:

Mary Lou McDonald

I would like to start by welcoming the representatives of the La Senza workers to the Dáil today.

The way in which the 93 La Senza workers were made redundant this week is totally unacceptable.

It is unacceptable for workers to be told on a Monday morning that they no longer have a job. It is unacceptable for the employer to withhold wages and overtime for hours worked. It is unacceptable for employees to be left with no redundancy package by their employer.

Adequate notice of redundancy should have been given. December wages and overtime should have been paid on time. An adequate redundancy package should have been put in place for all staff to assist them in the difficult transition to unemployment.

The company should also have engaged in discussions with staff and their union representatives earlier to try and save the jobs.

Instead La Senza has treated its hard working staff deplorably. It has trampled all over their rights. Despite staff working long hours over the holidays they are being treated in an unfair and unacceptable manor.

Sinn Fein strongly supports the decision by the staff to occupy the Liffey Valley retail outlet. Their demands are reasonable and justified. They are simply asking to be paid for the hours that they worked and to be treated with respect. Any right minded person would support such demands.

I have listened carefully to the Minister’s response.

I want to remind him that last September his colleagues passed a motion in the Seanad calling for “greater protections to be put in place for employees facing collective redundancy situations” and, “for the Government to review existing legislation” with a view to providing greater legal protection to workers such as those in VitaCortex in Cork and La Senza in Dublin and Cork.

What we need from the Government is more than words, we need action to prevent more unscrupulous employers treating their employees in the same disgraceful was as the workers in VitaCortex and La Senza.

Sean Crowe

I would also like to welcome the representatives of the workers from La Senza here today. I and my colleague from Dublin Mid West Sinn Fein Eoin O Broin met with the staff involved in the Liffey Valley sit in this afternoon.

I want to commend them for the stand they have taken, not just in defence of their own rights and entitlements, but in defence of all workers, particularly in the retail sector.
Other speakers have dealt with the appalling way in which the 93 workers were treated by their employers.

I share the anger felt by all decent people on this issue.

However it must also be said that more should have been done to save these jobs.
La Senza has been having difficulties. However the Dublin and Cork outlets were busy during the Christmas and New Year sales. While the long term future of the shops may have been uncertain there is simply no excuse for the workers to be treated in this way.

I understand that the workers trade union representatives in Mandate are meeting the administrators this morning to try and address the outstanding issues. I hope the outcome of these engagements lead to a resolution acceptable to the workers.

However if it is not the Government must intervene to secure the rights and entitlements of these employees.

A worrying trend seems to be emerging in which workers rights and being trampled on. In Vita Cortex in Cork and now La Senza in Dublin and Cork basic standards of decency are not been met.

There is clearly a need for the Government to step in in both of these cases not only to resolve the matter for those directly affected but also to send a clear signal to employers that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

If hard working workers can be sacked with immediate effect, have wages withheld and be offered no redundancy it is clear that the law is not adequate. This means that the Government must act to ensure that there are no more La Senza’s or VitaCortex’s in the future.

Connect with Sinn Féin