Workers to end Cork city Debenhams sit-in protest today

Workers to end Cork city Debenhams sit-in protest today

Michelle Coughlan-Price with former Debenhams workers and supporters as they staged a rally outside the Patrick Street store, as the sit-in protest continued inside the store. The former workers were due to leave the store today. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE occupation of Debenhams in Cork city centre is set to come to an end this lunchtime.

At 12.30pm today, eight former staff members of the company from across the stores at Patrick Street, Mahon Point Shopping Centre and Tralee are due to finish their sit-in, which began early Tuesday morning.

Following a redundancy deal that was negotiated between liquidators KPMG and Mandate Trade Union, and described as “an insult” by former Debenhams staff, sit-ins began in Cork and Dublin “in pursuit of a just settlement of four weeks redundancy pay per year of service” as had previously been negotiated with the company.

The offer made to the workers last week by KPMG approximates to one day’s pay per year of service above the statutory minimum.

On Tuesday, the former staff entered the building at Patrick Street and, after being spoken to by gardaí, were permitted to stay provided they did not go on to the shop floor.

At a sit-in in Dublin, six people were arrested on Tuesday morning - including Henry Street shop steward Jane Crowe, two other former staff members, and three supporters.

They were subsequently released without charge.

The former Debenhams workers in Cork have thanked the people and businesses of the city for their support during this week’s occupation of the Patrick Street store.

It comes following contributions of food to the staff taking part in the occupation, and following a lunchtime rally outside the shop yesterday afternoon.

Staff and members of the public were out in force to show their support for the workers who are calling for the Government to intervene to ensure “a just settlement proposal” is made.

Mandate shop steward, and one of the staff who took part in the sit-in, Valerie Conlon, told The Echo that while she couldn’t attend Wednesday’s rally outside the store, she and others inside watched it on Facebook Live.

“I just want to say thank you to the people of Cork. They have really come out to support us. I was actually watching the live Facebook and got very emotional watching it all,” she said.

“Ordinary people’s support is just amazing and I just want to say a big thank you,” Ms Conlon added.

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