Debenhams workers plight subject of Dáil motion

Debenhams workers plight subject of Dáil motion
Debenhams workers and supporters during a rally over the closure outside the Patrick street branch, Cork.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A two-hour debate will take place in the Dáil this evening on a motion in support of the Debenhams workers.

Solidarity People Before Profit are bringing forward the bill which aims to strengthen the rights of workers facing redundancies and layoffs.

Thousands of Irish staff, including hundreds in Cork, were left with just the statutory minimum redundancy payment of two weeks per year of service when Debenhams shut their Irish stores.

Staff from both Mahon Point and Patrick’s Street have been picketing, while Patrick’s Street staff have been involved in standoffs in a bid to stop stock leaving the store.

Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said: "Debenhams have reopened 122 shops in the UK. They have a highly profitable online service which still makes money from orders sourced in this country. They are well able to afford the €13m needed to pay the workers they made redundant an extra two weeks pay per year of service."

The motion, which will be voted on on Thursday, calls for Revenue and other state agencies to put monies that are due to be paid by the liquidator towards an improved redundancy package for the workers.

"Micheál Martin has played down the ability of the State to step in and resolve the redundancy issue but the liquidators have made it very clear that they can make a payout if the Government instructs them to do so,” Deputy Barry said.

“Debenhams are the ones who should pay but if the Government can't force them to do so then the State should make the payout,” he added.

The motion will also call for legislation to improve workers' rights in situations of company liquidation, which Deputy Barry said will “prevent more scandals such as Clerys and Debenhams happening in the future.” Debenhams workers will march to the National Convention Centre tonight in advance of the Dáil debate, which is due to take place at around 9pm.

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