Press Centre

Paris Bakery situation reveals true state of workers’ rights in Ireland

Dublin, 04 June 2014

The Paris Bakery sit-in shows that Ireland is failing workers, according to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

Speaking before today’s rally at the Dáil, MRCI Director Edel McGinley said, “The Government would like us to believe that Ireland is the best small country in which to do business, but that’s far from true for many workers, especially workers like these: young workers, migrant workers, low-paid workers.”

The Paris Bakery employees are owed some €100,000 in back pay, redundancy and holiday pay. A group of workers has been occupying the Moore Street premises since Friday 23rd May in an effort to prevent the employers from stripping assets from the company. Owners Yannick Forel and Ruth Savill are refusing to engage with the workers.

MRCI, which provides employment & immigration advice and support to migrant workers in Ireland, is supporting the sit-in at Paris Bakery and assisting individual workers to apply for emergency State supports.

Ms McGinley stated, “We’ve worked closely with the Paris Bakery workers over the past 2 weeks. In that time, we’ve discovered that working conditions in Paris Bakery were dreadful. The owners completely disregarded basic employment rights: minimum wage, breaks, annual leave, health and safety. This was happening in the very centre of Dublin, in a café frequented by journalists, TDs – even Government ministers.”

“This horrible situation is further proof of what years of casework experience have shown us: employment law is not being enforced in the restaurant sector in Ireland, and as a result exploitation is rife and workers are suffering.”

Ms McGinley continued, “These workers are skilled chefs, bakers, waiters and waitresses. Despite their best efforts, they were left high and dry by their boss, and now they are finding that the State can’t help them either.”

MRCI has also expressed serious concerns about a particular trend in the Irish restaurant industry – the so-called ‘phoenix syndrome’. Restaurateurs can simply switch trading names, shutting down one business and opening another under the exact same brand.

Ms McGinley concluded, “They can take their client base with them and leave their workers in the lurch. The public needs to know this is happening in Ireland.”

ENDS

Paris Bakery workers and supporters are holding a rally at the Dáil from 1-2pm today (Wednesday 4 June), calling on the Government to intervene urgently.