Joint provisional liquidators have been appointed by the High Court to four Irish operating companies that are part of the UK fashion group Arcadia. As the matter is before the courts and not a matter for Government, it is sub judice and I am limited in what I can say.
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, especially at this time of the year.
It is important to say that a provisional liquidator does not take steps to wind up a company but rather preserves and secures the company's assets pending appointment of an official liquidator. Therefore, the employees of Arcadia remain as employees and continue to have employment rights and contractual rights, which they can exercise.
I understand that it is hoped to secure 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 or mitigated.
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, we have received no such notification in regard to Arcadia.
Redundancy is a matter for the employer in the first instance but the State will guarantee the employment rights and entitlements of the workers in Arcadia; it should be borne in mind that a collective agreement such as the one the Deputy mentioned is contingent on the employer's ability to pay.
The Companies Act 2014 provides safeguards to ensure that a liquidation complies with the law. In the event of the appointment of an official liquidator, workers also have rights as creditors under company law and they can execute these through the courts. They, or their representatives, can go to court on any question arising in the winding up of a company. The Government will work in a co-ordinated way to assist anyone who loses his or her job. A wide range of measures including welfare entitlements, job search assistance and upskilling opportunities can be made available. We will be happy to engage with the trade union representing the workers in Arcadia.