Liffey Valley staff ‘railroaded’ into paying shopping centre €600-a-year parking fees
“They need to change the terms and conditions. I stopped driving because they introduced the charge. When I took on the job in Liffey Valley there was free parking”
Staff at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre are continuing to protest over parking fees that have been “railroaded in”, costing staff up to €600 per year.
A protest on Monday saw staff marching from the Jim Larkin Monument on O’Connell Street to Hines head office on Sir John Rogerson's Quay. They are demanding a meeting with the owner, US investment group Hines, to discuss the terms and conditions.
In October, parking charges were introduced for staff and customers. Staff have been told to park in the temporary green car park which has room for 550 cars at a “discounted” staff rate of €2.50 per day. For full-time staff, this amounts to €600 per year.
Around 2,500 staff work at the shopping centre, and the discounted rate only applies for the green car park, which is also open to the public.
If staff don’t get a space in the staff car park, they must park in the customer car park at a cost of €12.50 per day.
“Some of these ladies started 25 years ago and are now in their early 60s. They have given their lives to Liffey Valley,” said Natalie Reilly, who has worked at the centre for four years.
“They need to change the terms and conditions. I stopped driving because they introduced the charge. When I took on the job in Liffey Valley there was free parking.
“One of the main reasons I won’t drive to work is because of the contract we have to sign. The way it was railroaded in was very unfair.
“We are looking for them to sit down and talk to us and change the terms and conditions.”
Ms Reilly said the “majority” of Liffey Valley staff are now parking in the surrounding retail units and walking up to the shopping centre to avoid the parking fees.
“There are times that staff have gone in and it [staff carpark] has been full,” she said.
The shopping centre has recently undergone a €30m refurbishment to enhance parking and public transport and increase the size of the car park.
However, Ms Reilly said public transport to Liffey Valley is “miles away” from what it should be.
“I’m all for sustainable travel and the environment, but the infrastructure is not there at the moment,” she said.
“Paying €2.50 for anybody that is working full-time, when the infrastructure is not there, it’s a lot of money. It’s an extra €600-a-year.
“Some of these people are 24 years working here. Every day people are coming to work thinking ‘if I don’t get a space, do I have €12.50 on my bank card?” she added.
Frustrated staff said they are willing to pay a set yearly rate similar to The Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght, where staff pay €100 per year to park. However, this has been rejected by management.
“There was no consultation with the staff, we were excluded from everything. That car park changed overnight and nobody cared,” Ms Reilly said.
“The majority of staff would live well over 10km and a lot of them live over 20km,” she said.
Ms Reilly said staff are “stressed” and worried about the situation.
“A lot of people are afraid to come out protesting. The way this was railroaded in, there was no respect given to the staff or the customers,” she said.
A spokesman for Hines said the introduction of paid parking has been “working well”, and is “in line with national and local authority transport policies and the South Dublin County Development Plan”.
“We are glad to note there is adequate parking to meet the demand for staff parking in the designated areas.
“At all times since October we have been able to cater for all staff parking requirements in this area,” said the spokesman.
"Staff working at the centre will not be charged more than the staff rate. It is worth noting that this is almost 40pc less than a daily bus fare.
“The new bus plaza will open in the coming weeks which will see buses bring commuters right to the door of the centre to further enhance public transport connectivity.
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