'Government must act to stop a jobs massacre in the retail sector'

'Government must act to stop a jobs massacre in the retail sector'
Valerie Conlon and former staff take part in a social distance protest outside Debenhams on Patrick Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

FORMER Debenhams workers in Cork and across the country are continuing their picketing with a day of action planned for tomorrow.

They are calling for backing from Government and political parties to intervene to save their jobs and the wider retail sector in Ireland.

In particular, the workers want to meet the leaders of the three parties heading into Government formation talks on Thursday - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party - to call on them to make these red line issues in Government formation.

One group of workers will bring their case to the Dáil on Wednesday at 11:30am, while there will be localised protests across the country, including in Cork.

Organisers have said that all action taking place will be socially distanced and will take place for one hour - between 11:30am and 12:30pm.

Those in Cork will picket on the quayside of City Hall, while at the same time Valerie Conlon, Mandate Trade Union rep from Cork's Patrick's Street store, will deliver a letter to Micheál Martin's constituency office.

Former staff at Debenhams at a recent protest outside the store on Maylor Street. Included are Erica O’Mahony, Madeline Whelan, Grace Hall, Valerie Conlon, Deirdre Power, Sarah Gleeson, Claire O’Leary, Gillian McSweeney and Amanda Lyons. Picture Dan Linehan
Former staff at Debenhams at a recent protest outside the store on Maylor Street. Included are Erica O’Mahony, Madeline Whelan, Grace Hall, Valerie Conlon, Deirdre Power, Sarah Gleeson, Claire O’Leary, Gillian McSweeney and Amanda Lyons. Picture Dan Linehan

A statement on behalf of former staff of Debenhams states: “Up to 2,000 workers lost their jobs last Thursday when the company was formally liquidated. 

"The workers are angry and disappointed they had no voice in the court."

Speaking on behalf of the protesting workers Valerie Conlon of the Patrick's Street store in Cork, and Jane Crowe of Henry Street, Dublin, said: “Covid 19 is leading to massive redundancies everywhere. Debenhams is a test case for how these are handled. 

"We believe the government must act to stop a jobs massacre in the retail sector. With government investment, profitable stores could return to trading as soon as restrictions are lifted in June.” 

Workers have said they feel a number of measures could be taken to save jobs. 

They have said Debenhams could benefit from a €6.5 billion business fund announced by the Government over the weekend, and have said that Apple taxes and other “unclaimed taxes” should be used to invest in jobs.

They have called for rent reductions for stores, and want the Government to apply to an EU fund aimed at preventing redundancies.

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