Press Centre

A new Paris Bakery every week: the rotten state of workers’ rights in Ireland

Community work; empowerment; collective action; participation; migrants

July 17th 2014: MRCI reveals details of two new groups of Dublin workers left high and dry

Last month, workers in Moore Street’s Paris Bakery were left without thousands of euro in back wages when the popular café shut without warning. Today, MRCI revealed details of two more cases where workers in Dublin were left high and dry when businesses closed.

Gráinne O’Toole of MRCI stated, “Paris Bakery was not an isolated case. All over the country businesses close without warning and leave workers out of pocket. While many employers recognise the value of their workers and treat them with decency and respect, others simply abdicate all responsibility and walk away, refusing to pay employees their basic wages, redundancy and entitlements. The burden then falls on workers alone. We see this particularly in low-paid sectors like restaurants and catering, where many workers are living hand to mouth and have nothing to sustain them and their families when they suddenly find themselves out of work.”

“The Government can’t allow this trend to continue. It’s bad for workers, bad for families, and bad for the good businesses out there being undercut by sharp practice. We need to close the loopholes in our law right now and ensure that businesses are penalised if they abandon their workers like this.”

Beachcomber Food Bar & Takeaway, Malahide, Co. Dublin

The popular Malahide chipper closed suddenly at the beginning of July, to the complete shock of its small team of employees. The owner did not notify them of the impending closure and has refused to pay the redundancy they are owed.

Jolanta Marijosiute, one of three workers in the Beachcomber, started working there in September 2005. “I’ve known this employer for 9 years, worked for him for 9 years,” she stated. “He didn’t tell me that they were going to close, didn’t give me a chance to prepare myself, and now refuses to pay us any redundancy. He’s going to sell the lease and just walk away. We don’t matter to him at all. I’m heartbroken, honestly.”

Smyth & Gray, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

When employees turned up for work on July 1st in city centre restaurant Smyth & Gray, they were immediately sent home again by the manager as the restaurant had closed.

Kitchen porter Kamile Sawick had worked for the restaurant since May, and was never given any warning that the business might shut. He and the restaurant’s nine other employees are owed wages, which the owners are refusing to pay. “To go to work one morning as usual, suspecting nothing, and suddenly discover that your workplace has closed, your job is gone, and you have no hope of getting the money you’re owed – it’s like a punch in the gut.  I worked hard for Smyth & Gray – 40, 50 hours a week in the kitchen. I can’t believe we weren’t told until it was all over. I don’t really know who to trust now.”

Smyth & Gray was run by RASC Catering Ltd and named after its directors Robert J Smyth and Mark Gray. The also ran 2 restaurants in Farmleigh. The staff of the Boathouse at Farmleigh were also left in the lurch but Brambles Catering Ltd took over and reemployed most of the staff.

ENDS

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is representing workers from both businesses. MRCI provides information, support and advocacy to migrants and their families, and campaigns for workers’ rights, justice and equality for migrants in Ireland.