Outrage over Wiggle decision to close Chain Reaction operations

white-out-of-red-fullManagement restructuring threatens more than three hundred jobs and comes only months after acquisition

October 26th: Unite Regional Officer, Davy Thompson, was scathing of a decision by Wiggle to close operations it inherited from Chain Reaction Cycles in Northern Ireland. Speaking after workers were told Northern Ireland operations would close in the middle of 2017, Mr Thompson said:

“This appears to be a clear case of corporate asset-stripping. Wiggle acquired its competitor, the successful Northern Ireland distribution and retail business Chain Reaction cycles, in February of this year and by October wants to close most of its Northern Ireland operations.

“Management gathered the warehouse union reps together this afternoon to inform them all Northern Ireland operations, with the exception of the White Park mechanical repair facility at which approximately twenty workers are based, will be closed by Summer 2017.

“This decision threatens redundancy for more than 150 full-time and 160 agency workers and is completely indefensible.

“Earlier in the year, Unite reps raised concerns with political leaders that Wiggle’s acquisition might be driven by a desire to buy a competitors’ order-book with little long-term commitment to its workforce. We were given assurances that this was not the case.

“This loss of employment is yet another blow to Northern Ireland’s economy. These losses affect our retail sector which in the past weeks have suffered the collapse of Exhibit as well as British Home Stores.

“Only last Monday a Unite delegation met with the Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, to press him for real action to grow Northern Ireland’s economy in the face of recent redundancy and closure notices and the impact of Brexit.

“Today demonstrates that such support needs to be complemented by legislation in the Assembly to provide necessary protections for Northern Ireland workers. It is simply far too easy for corporations to buy up successful local companies, take their order books and offshore jobs making local workers redundant.

“Corporate actions like this would incur huge costs in most European countries, where employers have to contribute to the social costs of the dislocation caused by disinvestment and redundancies; such protections are no barrier to the success of those economies – there is no excuse for inaction.

“Unite will be meeting our reps and members in Wiggle in the coming days to discuss our response to this shocking announcement”, Mr Thompson concluded.

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