Nine weeks on: Cork Debenhams workers continue to their stand 

Nine weeks on: Cork Debenhams workers continue to their stand 
Former staff of Debenhams, Patrick Street outside the locked premises.Staff and supporters taking part in the protest action. Chocolates and lottery numbers were dropped off by members of the public for the workers.Pic; Larry Cummins

Nine weeks following the news that Debenhams stores in Cork were set to close, staff are continuing to picket and calling on the Government to intervene.

Staff from the Patrick’s Street store protested today for an hour, again highlighting their disgust at being let go without an adequate redundancy package, and have said they will not allow stock inside the stores be moved out.

They are keeping watch outside the store from 6am until 6.30pm to ensure stock doesn’t get moved from the store, but will extend their patrols to 24 hours if necessary.

Debenhams workers have been calling for Government intervention since they received word the Irish stores would close, fearing other companies would do the same. 

Their fears have now come to pass and staff from other companies like Monsoon, Warehouse, and Oasis are in similar situations.

Valerie Conlon, Mandate shop steward at Cork’s Patrick’s Street store said: “This is what we have been saying from the beginning - that we were going to be the start of it.

“The street is emptying fairly fast and it’s frightening,” she said.

“This is why we have been trying to get on to the Government to try and do something. I realise they’re in limbo trying to make a Government at the moment but, at the end of the day, this problem is still going to be there so they should be trying to solve this as well.

“They have to step in at this stage and do something,” she added.

Ms Conlon said that during lockdown many companies have seen how well they can do via online sales and is concerned that some companies will no longer see the merit in staffed stores.

Debenhams online site is still operational in Ireland, despite the closure of its 11 stores.

However, she said the response from people in Cork to the action of Debenhams workers has been very positive, with people stopping to voice their support at Thursday’s action, and one man giving them a lotto ticket to share the winnings amongst staff if their numbers are drawn.

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