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Staff at two Cork butcher shops lose jobs over text — with just one hour’s notice

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Staff at two butcher shops were given an hour’s notice by text that their jobs were gone and that they would not be getting any back-pay or redundancy.

The former Butcher’s Block workers at Douglas and Blackpool shopping centers in Cork spoke of their shock at the decision, just five weeks before Christmas.

Podge O’Donoghue, who worked in the Blackpool outlet for eight years, said they were “treated worse than dogs”.

“We got an hour’s notice — and at this time of the year. That’s the worst part of it,” the father of two young children, aged two and four, said.

“We don’t know where to go, or what to do. I’ll have to sign on I suppose, but I’ve sent out my CV already, to get the ball rolling, and hopefully I’ll pick something up.”

In a follow-up email to staff on Saturday, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, the company blamed “severe economic conditions” for the closure. It said:

Due to the dire financial position of the company, we cannot pay any entitlements due to employees (holidays, back week, statutory redundancies.)

“We are arranging for the appointment of a liquidator in the next few weeks.

A copy of the text message sent to one of the workers of Butcher’s Block. Picture: David Creedon

“The liquidator will be able to arrange, with the department of social welfare, for the payment of your statutory entitlements, however, this will inevitably take several weeks to arrange.

“We suggest that you contact the local social welfare office to claim your benefits as soon as possible. Please let us know of any paperwork you may need from us in order to process your claim with the minimum of delay.”

The company has been asked to comment and a response is awaited.

Former staff criticized the way management arranged for the clear-out of the stores overnight. It is understood staff tip jars were among the items removed.

Warning signs

But Nathan Sugrue, who was let go from the Butcher’s Block a few weeks ago, said he saw warning signs up to seven months ago.

“The place wasn’t running as smoothly as it did last year,” he said.

The products weren’t coming in as frequently and there was less of everything, and customers were asking us, and we had no answer for them, because we didn’t know ourselves.

The Butcher’s Block also operates shops in Dungarvan, Portlaoise, Tallaght, and Sandymount, which are understood to be trading as normal.

The closure comes amid warnings from the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland president Jack Molloy that small family-run butchers are being crippled by soaring energy costs, and more government support is needed. Independent butchers in Nenagh and Sligo have closed in the past 10 days.

Marek Swiniarski shows the text message he received telling him Butcher's Block at Blackpool Shopping Center was closing down with other staff members, Tracey Doyle, Mindaugas Matijosius, and Podge O'Donoghue.  Picture: David Creedon
Marek Swiniarski shows the text message he received telling him Butcher’s Block at Blackpool Shopping Center was closing down with other staff members, Tracey Doyle, Mindaugas Matijosius, and Podge O’Donoghue. Picture: David Creedon

Socialist Party TD Mick Barry said as talk of recession increases, these closures should ring alarm bells for workers across the country.

“Earlier this month, tech workers were sacked by email, now we have Butcher’s Block workers sacked by text message in the middle of the night,” he said.

“If workers who played a key role in the pandemic providing food can be treated in this way, it is a sure sign that all workers must now organize and prepare to defend their interests in the months ahead.”

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