SIPTU Organiser, Jim Fuery, said: “Staff in the Smiles Newsagents section of Rehab Enterprises were informed by management on Thursday, October 29th that they were at risk of possible redundancy and that the company was entering into a 30-day consultation period with the workers. The workers are members of SIPTU. The union sought and received a written commitment from senior management in Rehab Group that the consultation period would not commence until 5th November. Despite this commitment, the earlier date of October 29th is still being referenced by the company.
“Smiles Newsagents have operating units in RTE, PWC, CITI Ireland, Primark, Central Bank of Ireland, Vodafone, Trinity Hall Student Residence and with Paddy Power Betfair PLC. The workers, many of whom have disabilities, are on furlough as their employer availed of the Government wage subsidy scheme. The vast majority of workers in Smiles Newsagents are on the minimum wage of €10.10 per hour and that hourly rate is subsidised by €7.30 under the Wage Subsidy Scheme.
“SIPTU representatives have called on Rehab Group to provide viable alternative employment for the workers. If this is not possible, we have requested that the agreed redundancy package that applies within Rehab Enterprises and its parent company Rehab Group will be paid to workers who are to be made redundant.
“We have been informed by the Rehab Group board that it will not sanction such agreed redundancy packages. The union has access to the accounts of Rehab Enterprises, but management is refusing to provide the Rehab Group accounts.
“This refusal and the decision by the Rehab Group Board to unilaterally reduce the redundancy package to these workers is unacceptable. These workers have provided loyal service to their employer for many years. For them to be rushed through a redundancy process shortly before Christmas by a registered charity is despicable.”
He added: “SIPTU is calling on the Rehab Group board to release its accounts to the union, to find viable alternative work for these workers within the Group and, if that is not possible, to pay the agreed redundancy package to those who, unfortunately, may lose their employment.”