Athlone workers protest over stalled redundancy pay with sit-in

Staff in the Athlone branch of GAME have joined their comrades in the 12 other retail outlets across Ireland in holding a sit-in at the unit in the Towncentre in protest at the firm’s refusal to pay proper redundancies.

Taking a leaf out of the Vita Cortex plant in Cork who are now 106 days into their protest for similar measures, the eight staff in the Athlone branch have joined their 113 colleagues nationwide in the protest since the UK-based computer game retail store went into administration and made the announcement earlier this week.

Deputy store manager in Athlone Andrea Bolger says workers will continue to fight for their entitlements.

“Basically, we just want to get redundancy money owed to us, but we’ve been told we need to claim from the State. We just don’t want to go down without a fight,” she said.

“The company is still trading in the UK and therefore we believe we should get what we're owed,” she said.

In a statement released this week, former staff members have alleged that the Game Group appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators for its UK interests, but did not do so for any for its Republic of Ireland operations, contrary to the group’s previous claim PwC would act as administrators for its operations in both countries.

The former employees say they have been instructed to make a claim to the State for statutory redundancy entitlements, and have not been given support in this apart from information about UK redundancy procedures. They say the process will take more than a year to complete.

“We believe GAME and PricewaterhouseCoopers are making us a burden on the Irish taxpayer while avoiding their responsibilities,” the statement claimed.

We were informed that we would not be paid redundancy, or any statutory or contractual notice periods, or any outstanding leave,” the former employees claim.

In the most recent statement from the administrators, PwC have confirmed that wages for the month of March 2012 will be paid this week, and a further meeting between their representatives and those of the employee’s is being arranged.

“My thoughts are with the employees and families, and I do hope the Game Group meets it moral obligations in ensuring the guys are adequately recompensed, and that the staff find alternative employment in the near future,” said Athlone mayor, Cllr Alan Shaw.

The Game Group is closing 265 of its 597 stores across the UK, with consequent job losses of just under 2,000 announced.

The firm’s share price dropped to 1p on the UK stock Exchange earlier this month, and the retailer was suspended from trading.

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