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Former Debenhams workers stage a sit-in at the retailers' St Patrick's Street store in Cork city. Picture: Valerie Conlon
Former Debenhams workers stage a sit-in at the retailers' St Patrick's Street store in Cork city. Picture: Valerie Conlon
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Latest: Former Debenhams workers call for public support as sit-in staged in Cork store

LATEST:

Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry commended the efforts of the former Debenhams workers who have staged a sit-in.

"Every supporter of workers' rights in the land will applaud the action that the Debenhams workers have taken.

"Micheál Martin should hang his head in shame at the pitiful offer that was made to these workers.

"Now that the offer has been withdrawn he must be put under massive pressure to see that it is greatly improved in the days ahead,” he said.

 Gardai leaving Debenhams store in Cork where striking workers took occupancy Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Gardai leaving Debenhams store in Cork where striking workers took occupancy

Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

EARLIER:

No arrests have been made at the Debenhams workers' sit-in on Patrick Street. The protest has been deemed peaceful and the former Debenhams workers have been permitted to remain in the staff canteen.

“They are letting us stay in the store once we stay in the room, keep away from open windows and don’t go on to the shop floor,” Mandate shop steward in Patrick's Street Valerie Conlon, who is one of those occupying the city centre store told The Echo.

“They are leaving us stay until Thursday,” she continued.

Ms Conlon said she is hoping the Government will step in to help former Debenhams workers secure a fair redundancy package.

“We’re hoping now that the Government will step in and help us.

“There’s a new Government there, they keep saying that they are in support of us and they really haven’t done anything to help us,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mandate Trade Union said it is disappointed the liquidators of Debenhams Ireland have withdrawn their redundancy settlement offer and has called on all parties to immediately engage to find a satisfactory resolution to the dispute.

In a statement issued this morning, the liquidator said: “Following the actions of certain people over night it has now become clear that the offer is not acceptable to the former employees and others.

"In light of these developments the Liquidators have formally withdrawn their support for the settlement agreement this morning.

"No further settlement agreements will be negotiated by the Liquidators with the former employees."

In response to the occupation by Debenhams workers in three stores (Cork, Dublin and Tralee), Mandate Trade Union said “152 days of frustration has manifested itself in direct action” and that frustration is completely understandable.

 Debenhams store in Cork where striking workers took occupancy Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Debenhams store in Cork where striking workers took occupancy

Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Gerry Light, Mandate Assistant General Secretary said Debenhams Ireland has “completely discarded” its former workers.

“The law allowed that company to tear up the worker’s redundancy agreement and transfer valuable assets over to the UK parent company leaving their workers with nothing,” he said.

“The workers have lobbied the Government for changes to legislation since last April and yet we’ve seen nothing.

“What should have happened is the immediate implementation of the Duffy/Cahill report so that these workers could get what’s owed to them.

“Instead, we’ve seen procrastination while these workers are left standing out in the rain. Is it any wonder frustration is boiling over?

“This occupation will hopefully highlight the plight of the Debenhams workers and the changes needed to address tactical insolvencies. These workers should never have been put in this position in the first place but inaction by successive governments has led to this and will lead to more actions like it unless something is done soon,” he continued.

Former Debenhams workers are staging a demonstration outside the Patrick Street store at 1pm today and are calling for support from the public.

UPDATE:

Six people have been arrested at the Debenhams workers' sit-in at Henry St, Dublin, while Gardaí have arrived at Patrick's Street store in Cork

The arrests took place at 8.15am after the occupation commenced at 7am.

A simultaneous occupation is currently taking place in the Patrick St store in Cork city where gardaí are currently taking names of those involved in the sit-in.

The sit-ins have been organised to highlight the workers' demands for four weeks redundancy per year of service.

They also have been organised to show opposition to the offer made to the workers last week by KPMG which approximates to one days pay per year of service above the statutory minimum.

EARLIER:

Some former staff at Debenhams in Cork are staging a sit-in this morning at the Patrick's Street store, along with their collegues in Henry Street in Dublin.

A statement from the workers says that they are pursuing "a just settlement of 4 weeks redundancy pay per year of service."

The workers have described a settlement offer received last week as an insult.

Mandate shop steward in Patrick's Street Valerie Conlon, who is one of those occupying the store in Cork, said: "Four weeks redundancy per year of service is a very modest demand but the offer that was made last week fell far short of it. 

"Instead of providing two weeks per year of service on top of the statutory minimum, the offer provides for an extra one days pay per year of service. That is a real insult."

Henry St shop steward Jane Crowe who is also sitting in said: "To say that we are disappointed with Micheál Martin is an understatement. His government have had more than two months now to come up with a fair settlement - they need to do much better than this."

Mahon Point shop steward Carol Ann Bridgeman who is sitting in in Cork said: "Debenhams workers who have been picketing for the last 150 days are stepping up the fight for a decent settlement. Our fight is a fight for all workers and we appeal to the public to support us."

The Debenhams dispute reached the 150-day mark last Sunday.