Cork Debenhams workers not happy with potential redundancy deal

Cork Debenhams workers not happy with potential redundancy deal

Former Debenhams worker Valerie Conlon, (Mandate shop steward) and Madeline Whelan outside Debenhams, St Patrick's Street, Cork City earlier this week.

“Not good news” is how a potential redundancy deal negotiated in the Debenhams dispute has been described by a Cork staff member.

Valerie Conlon, Mandate shop steward at the Debenhams store on Patrick’s Street said that they were informed of the potential deal on a zoom call with Mandate and SIPTU on Thursday.

She explained that staff are entitled to statutory redundancy, which is two weeks' pay for every year of service, plus one additional week's pay. That totals between €10 and €11 million for all staff in the 11 stores across the country, she explained.

According to Ms Conlon, this deal has offered just an additional €1 million to workers between the 11 stores which, she said, is far less than what they were looking for.

“We will get the statutory redundancy anyway, but then instead of the extra two weeks (per year of service) that we are looking for, which would be another €10 or €11 million, we have been offered €1 million,” Ms Conlon told The Echo.

She said that staff wouldn’t accept that amount, adding that Mandate were “confident” breaking the story of the deal “without it being voted on.” 

All union staff will now receive a detailed document on the proposed deal, which will be followed by a postal ballot of members to see if they accept what’s on the table.

In a statement, Mandate Trade Union said they had negotiated “a potential resolution” to the ongoing despute over redundancy for Debenhams staff.

That includes “a financial settlement offer as well as guaranteed employment for a number of Debenhams staff as a new leaseholder takes control of at least three stores.” 

Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary said: “This deal was only made possible because of the resilience and determination of our Debenhams members who have stood on picket lines through hail, rain and even storms over the last four months.

“They have lobbied, protested, and raised consciousness of their plight through the media. They are a credit to their union and to themselves.” 

However, it seems unlikely that Debenhams staff will vote in favour of the proposals.

Sunday marks 150 days of Debenhams workers fight for fair redundancy, and rallies will be held at both Cork stores - at Patrick’s Street and Mahon Point Shopping Centre - to coincide with other planned rallies across the country.

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