Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
215. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will work with the employees of a group (details supplied) and their trade union representatives to see a fair and suitable outcome when the company ceases trading. [44457/20]
224. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will engage with the workers of a group (details supplied) and their trade union to ensure that the company will honour the workers collective agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44570/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 and 224 together.
Joint provisional liquidators have been appointed by the High Court to four Irish operating companies, that are part of the UK fashion group Arcadia.
I extend my sympathies to the workers who are in danger of losing their jobs. I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is for those involved.
It is important to note that a provisional liquidator does not take steps to wind up the company but rather preserves and secures the company’s assets pending appointment of an official liquidator. As such, the employees of Arcadia remain as employees and continue to have employment rights which they can exercise.
I understand that it is hoped to procure the sale of the Irish operations as part of an overall sale of the group and that the Irish stores will continue to trade through Christmas to maximise the value of stock. The Government hopes a suitable and sustainable buyer can be found, and that any potential job losses can be avoided.
Section 12 of the Protection of Employment Act 1977 makes it mandatory on employers to notify the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment of a proposed collective redundancy. To date none has been received in relation to Arcadia.
Redundancy is a matter for the employer in the first instance, or if it is a liquidation, it is a matter between the liquidator and employees. Government has no statutory role in negotiations. The State will guarantee statutory employment rights to the workers of Arcadia. If necessary, the Social Insurance Fund, provides a safety net for employees to ensure they receive their statutory entitlements.
The Companies Act 2014 provides safeguards to ensure that a liquidation process complies with the relevant statutory requirements.
Workers also have rights as creditors under company law and they can execute their lawful rights through the courts.They, or their representatives, can go to court on any question arising in the winding up of a company.
Government will work in a coordinated way to support any person who loses their job. Supports include welfare entitlements, job-search assistance and upskilling opportunities.