'They have stood their ground and never faltered': Support for Debenhams workers as they mark a year of protest

'They have stood their ground and never faltered': Support for Debenhams workers as they mark a year of protest

Some of the former Debenhams workers (front) Susan O'Mahony (left) and Deirdre Power and (back from left) Gillian McSweeney, Orla Dowling and Ciara Hartnett marking one year since they received the email that their jobs were gone pictured socially distanced outside the store on St. Patrick's St., Cork.

Debenhams workers in Cork and around the country are today marking one year since the company announced the closure of all its stories in Ireland. 

They included two stores in Cork, on Patrick Street and in Mahon Point, and former workers at the stores have since been involved in a drawn out dispute with the company, protesting for a fair redundency package. 

The protest has seen months of pickets being held outside stores and disputes over attempts to remove stock and assets from the closed stores. 

Some of the former Debenhams workers marking one year since they received the email that their jobs were gone pictured socially distanced outside the store on St. Patrick's St., Cork.
Some of the former Debenhams workers marking one year since they received the email that their jobs were gone pictured socially distanced outside the store on St. Patrick's St., Cork.

Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould, said the ex-Debenhams workers have shown resilience and determination in their battle.

“For too long now, workers have come at the bottom of the pecking order in situations of liquidation," he said. 

“I want to send them a clear message of solidary, pride and support today. They have stood their ground and never faltered. For that, they must be commended.

“The treatment of Debenhams workers has been frankly appalling. The company is walking away from its responsibility to staff and away from any form of constructive engagement with unions.

“These workers have been campaigning for a fair and just settlement for one year now. They have been abandoned by Debenhams and are left with only basic state supports instead of the negotiated agreed redundancy rate. That is wholly unfair and unacceptable." 

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said he was given the green light by the Oireachtas to move a bill which aims to improve the position of workers in liquidation situations.

Deputy Barry will move the Companies (Protection of Employees Rights in Liquidations) Bill 2021 when the Dáil reconvenes.

The Bill seeks to add an article to the Company's Act that would prioritise payment to workers in a liquidation situation. The Bill also seeks to make unpaid collective redundancy payments into a debt in a liquidation situation.

"The law provides very little protection for workers in a liquidation situation and the Debenhams story really underlines that fact. 

"The Government have promised to change the law but have dragged their feet on the issue. So, rather than wait on them my office has drawn up a Bill and I will move it when the Dáil reconvenes. 

"This bill has been inspired by the struggle of the Debenhams workers and every TD will be asked to support it. The time for change on this issue has come."

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