Debenhams workers have been treated 'very badly', says Taoiseach 

Debenhams workers have been treated 'very badly', says Taoiseach 

A sit-in protest in the Debenhams , St Patrick's Street, Cork City store, by eight former workers, ended on Thursday. Valerie Conlon, Mandate shop steward was among the the eight Mandate workers who took part in the sit-in protest, pictured with supporters on Maylor Street after they ended the sit-in action.

The Taoiseach has reiterated his stance that Debenhams workers have been treated very badly following an impromptu meeting with Cork workers on Friday.

During his visit to Cork on Friday, Debenhams workers highlighted their case to Micheál Martin.

Mandate shop steward for Debenhams Patrick’s Street, Valerie Conlon, said he gave them an email address to send on all the information they had on the issue.

“He said once he gets an email he will look at it and he will get back to us,” she told The Echo.

Speaking to the media later in the day, the Taoiseach said that it was a very difficult situation.

“They have been treated very badly in terms of the failure to honour the collective agreement that the workers had entered into with the company.

“So, that is something that’s obviously a work in progress and that we will continue to engage with the workers on, and with Mandate and ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) more broadly,” he said.

Mr Martin’s comments come as a campaign designed to secure the urgent enactment of legislation has been endorsed by Mandate members from all Debenhams store locations.

The Trade Union says this legislation would help resolve the Debenhams dispute and ensure guarantees for workers finding themselves abandoned by their employer in similar circumstances.

They are calling on the government to immediately implement new legislation which contains the recommendations of the Duffy/Cahill review in its entirety, so that workers with an employer currently in the process of liquidation can benefit from its provisions and that future workers in similar circumstances are protected.

Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary said: “When this legislation is finally implemented the ex-Debenhams workers would then be entitled to the collectively agreed redundancy package negotiated by their union of four weeks’ pay per year of service.

“Frankly, we’ve heard enough words of sympathy from our politicians. The time for soundbites has long passed, the workers of this country need immediate and decisive action.” 

A private members bill regarding the Debenhams workers from the Independent Group is due before the Dáil on Wednesday.

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