May 31, 2023
Legislation must prioritise workers’ collective agreements following insolvency – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that legislation in the area of company and employment law must prioritise workers’ collective redundancy agreements.

Speaking after an Oireachtas committee hearing on collective redundancies, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“For nearly a decade successive governments have tip-toed around closing loopholes and lacunas in company and employment law in relation to tactical liquidations.

“Indeed, it is seven years since the publication of the Duffy-Cahill Report into the need for legal protections for workers where a company engages in a tactical liquidation to avoid its obligations to its employees.

“This report was commissioned following the tactical liquidation of Clerys department store, which made nearly 500 workers were made immediately redundant and denied them their collective redundancy entitlements.

“Despite a host of recommendations being made by the Duffy-Cahill Report as to how loopholes could be closed and workers protected, successive governments failed to act and protect workers.

“As a result, five years later Debenhams was liquidated in similar circumstances with over a thousand workers losing their jobs and their collective redundancy entitlements.

“Time and time again we have seen tactical liquidations used by companies to make workers immediately redundant and deny them their collective redundancy entitlements, and time and time again we have witnessed successive governments do nothing about it.

“For years workers, trade unions, and opposition politicians have been seeking legislative protections for workers collective agreements. Finally, the government have outlined their intentions to deliver legislative improvements in the area through the ‘Collective Redundancies Following Insolvency Bill 2023’.

“While any improvement in this area is welcome, the Bill does not address the situation whereby workers are treated as unsecured creditors for the purposes of their collectively bargained redundancy agreements.

“This means that this debt to the workers is not prioritised along the same lines as wages and statutory redundancy.

“This matter must be addressed and Sinn Féin will be amending the legislation to ensure due recognition is given to workers collective redundancy agreements.”

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