Former Debenhams staff, locked in a long-running battle over redundancy, have launched a campaign urging the public to boycott the department store’s website when buying Christmas presents this year.
“Any money that’s made on Debenhams.ie is actually going to England,” Valerie Conlon, Mandate Trade Union shop steward at the Patrick Street store told The Echo.
Ms Conlon encouraged people to instead support Irish businesses this Christmas.
Demonstrators protested outside Leinster House as well as in Cork yesterday, as Taoiseach Micheál Martin committed to meeting Mandate Trade Union this week in a bid to resolve the dispute.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Micheál Martin reiterated his view that the Debenhams workers have been treated poorly by their former employer and said he will be meeting with the union later this week.
“The workers have not been treated fairly and I will be meeting with Mandate this week to further discuss the issue to see if we can find a way to deal with this,” he said.
Mr Martin said finding a resolution to the dispute is not straightforward.
“Those who say it’s simple and say it’s easy in my view are misrepresenting the situation,” he added.
His comments came in the wake of calls from Solidarity TD Mick Barry for the Taoiseach to find a solution to end the deadlock.
Mr Barry acknowledged the challenges involved in coming up with a resolution but added that it is “not mission impossible”.
“Once again you have told the house that it is difficult,” he said. “No one ever said it would be otherwise, but I tell you this, it’s a damn site easier than standing 222 days on a picket line with winter kicking in and with the threat of the law hanging over your head.”
Mr Barry welcomed the news that the Taoiseach is to meet with Mandate but added that it is “important that that meeting includes the shop stewards”.
“You must put something on the table if this discussion is to have a chance of success and if these workers are to get what they deserve — a decent Christmas with their families,” said Mr Barry.
Ms Conlan also said shop stewards need to be involved in the meeting with the Taoiseach.
“I had a phone conversation on Friday with Micheál Martin and he committed to me that he would get onto the union to speak,” she said. “We’re hoping that it’s not just Mandate, we’re hoping it will be the 11 shop stewards as well.”
Yesterday marked the 222nd day on the picket lines for the ex-Debenhams workers, who are fighting for four weeks redundancy pay per year of service.