‘Cork workers are within your community, your neighbours’ - Debenhams workers hand letter into Taoiseach’s Cork office calling for urgent support

‘Cork workers are within your community, your neighbours’ - Debenhams workers hand letter into Taoiseach’s Cork office calling for urgent support

Debenhams workers are to hand a letter into the Taoiseach’s constituency office in Cork today calling for Micheál Martin to support workers in his own constituency.

The Debenhams workforce has undergone industrial action for the past 168 days after Debenhams informed their staff via email in early April that Irish stores were closing.

Staff have been protesting since the closure for a fair redundancy package from the company.

They have also vowed not to allow stock to be removed from the stores until that happens.

A recent proposal from KPMG on behalf of Debenhams was rejected by workers on the ground.

Protestors will hand a letter into Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s constituency office at Turner’s Cross today.

Fianna FAil leader Micheal Martin speaks to Debenhams staff during a protest by Debenhams workers at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin in July.
Fianna FAil leader Micheal Martin speaks to Debenhams staff during a protest by Debenhams workers at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin in July.

Former Debenhams worker Valerie Conlon said workers are tired of the lack of support from the government.

She criticised Fianna Fail TDs for attending protests and appearing sympathetic but then voting against workers motions.

In the letter to the Taoiseach, Debenhams workers said:

“You have acknowledged that we have been treated very shabbily by the employers of Debenhams.

“We now feel that we are being ignored and treated shabbily and disrespectfully by you, our government.

“There have been calls for ways in which our dispute can be resolved over the past 168 days, including two motions put to the Dail, but each time the Government has dismissed the proposal or diluted the motion in favour of not upsetting employers,” workers added.

“May I remind you that it is the hard work, dedication and commitment of the employees that help create and build these companies and enable them to make huge profits.

“These said-companies are then enabled and protected under laws to walk away whenever it suits them and shirk their responsibilities leaving behind total devastation for their staff.

“We have called on the Government to address these injustices by ensuring four weeks redundancy for Debenhams staff from sale of the stock and by implementation of the Duffy/Cahill report.” Workers have met with government representatives and with the Taoiseach in recent weeks.

“While you all are prepared to offer sympathy and photo opportunities it is not enough and goes nowhere towards ending and resolving our dispute,” they said.

The workers added that they are seeking a “just settlement” of a redundancy package of two plus two weeks for the almost 500 staff impacted by Cork store closures.

They criticised the Taoiseach, claiming he has not taken his obligations to his constituents seriously.

“Many of these Cork workers are within your community, your neighbours, the ordinary people that you rely on to vote for you and your party colleagues,” workers said in their letter.

“These are the people now calling on you Taoiseach to represent your constituents and ensure that they are treated with more dignity and respect than they have so far.

“We, your constituents, call on you as Taoiseach to urgently ensure every measure is taken to resolve our dispute fairly,” they added.

“We remember those who help us in our time of need and we don't forget those who don't.”

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