Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ireland: Game Shops Occupied While A Million Defy Household Tax

An occupier beds down for the night at what was the Tallaght branch of Game
Like their counterparts in Greece, Portugal and Spain, Irish workers have been hammered by the international bankers over the last few years. But until recently, ruling class commentators boasted that this had been achieved without much resistance - mainly thanks to the no-strike deal unions signed at Croke Park. However, there are initial signs that some are starting to say 'enough is enough', and take independent action.

On Monday, the predominantly young employees of Game - the high street computer games retailer - arrived at work to discover that they were redundant. Game is currently in administration, and mass redundancies are happening across the 277 UK and Ireland outlets, but what particularly incensed the Irish workers was the lack of any redundancy package. They also claim that they abruptness of the dismissal is a breach of Irish labour laws.

Libcom reports that:

"According to James Daly, a spokesman for the workers in Cork, administrators brought in from PricewaterhouseCoopers have flouted Irish employment law by not giving the required 30 days notice for collective redundancies. Quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, he said, "They just assume the law is the same as the UK. We were told 'Go to the Government and claim your statutory redundancy'. That could take up to a year or 18 months to go through while Game is still trading in the UK."

Occupations are currently ongoing at a dozen different stores. A Facebook update from a Monaghan occupier claims that PriceWaterhouseCooper administrators are showing up at the former Game shop, demanding the keys and access to the stock. Not surprisingly, occupiers are refusing to give up their only bargaining chip.

The Game occupations follow in the footsteps of the Lagan Bricks, La Senza and Vita Cortex occupations, which all began in Ireland at the turn of the year, when workers at each were dismissed without compensation. A picket is still in operation at Lagan Bricks, even though the company has decided that "all reasonable negotiation had ended". La Senza workers were more fortunate, earning a relatively quick victory, but the Vita Cortex sit-in has now passed its one hundredth day.

Meanwhile, tonight sees the deadline for approximately 1.6 million Irish householders to register for a €100 charge on their property, which the Fine Gael-Labour coalition is imposing at the behest of the financial elite. It is believed that only around 650,000 have put their names forward to pay so far - around a fifth of the total liable according to the government. In an echo of the 'can't pay, won't pay' UK poll tax campaign, mass non-payment could well end up costing the government more money than it brings in, and a government u-turn might be on the cards. RTÉ reports that five thousand attended a Dublin demonstration this afternoon.

The Game Ireland Facebook group is here and they can be Tweeted @GameIREfight. Email solidarity messages to gameireland13@gmail.com

The Lagan Bricks Facebook group is here.

The Vita Cortex Facebook group is here.
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