'So fed up they came out in their droves': 150 days of Debenhams protests

'So fed up they came out in their droves': 150 days of Debenhams protests

Ber Lynch on the picket. 

Today marks 150 days since Debenhams workers in Cork and across Ireland began protest action to demand a fair redundancy package from the company. 

Debenhams informed their staff via email in early April that Irish stores were closing, and staff have been protesting since the closure. They have also vowed not to allow stock to be removed from the stores until that happens.

 Ber Lynch on the picket. 
Ber Lynch on the picket. 

The workers have been staging weekly protests in Cork and across Ireland, including a number of protests in Cork over the weekend. 

Dozens of staff turned out in Cork on Saturday, following reports that an agreement had been reached with the Mandate trade union that would see at least €1 million released to pay additional redundancy payments.

Speaking to The Echo, Valerie Condon, a former Debenhams worker, said the offer was not good enough and actually garnered greater support for Saturday’s protest.

“We had a lot of support from both the public and staff,” she said.

“We had even more support from staff who hadn’t been out yet and that’s because of the offer.

“People were so fed up with the offer that they came out in their droves on Saturday. 

“It really puts it into perspective.

“We feel that their offer was just wrong and the way that it was put out to the media before many of us got it was also totally wrong.”

 "KPMG ARE YOU JOKING??" asks a young attendee Erika Dorgan/
"KPMG ARE YOU JOKING??" asks a young attendee Erika Dorgan/

 Ms Condon said staff will continue to protest.

“We’ve been protesting for 150 days,” she said. “We’re hopeful of a better offer once management and KPMG see that we aren’t happy with the current offer on the table.

“We have sent emails away this weekend, highlighting our frustration” 

Debenhams workers successfully stopped stock being removed from the store on Patrick’s Street in Cork recently.

Local TD Thomas Gould (SF) said Debenhams workers are angry at the redundancy offer they received from the company.

Mr Gould spoke at a recent protest at Mahon Point.

Speaking to The Echo, he said he will continue to raise the issue in the Dail.

"Promises were made to Debenhams workers in terms of support and they haven't been kept," he said.
"The Taoiseach needs to step in."

In recent months, Taoiseach Micheál Martin committed to review legislation in light of the closure of Debenhams in Ireland.

He was speaking in response to Cork North Central TD Mick Barry, as well as to Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, in the Dáil.

Solidarity’s Mick Barry, who stood with the workers during their blockade, highlighted in the Dáil the need for a meaningful 30-day consultation period, with company books being made available to workers and their representatives.

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