FORMER Debenhams workers in Cork have shown their support for a bill that aims to improve workers’ rights in liquidation situations.
The Companies (Protection of Employees Rights in Liquidations) Bill 2021 was moved by Solidarity TD Mick Barry in the Dáil this week.
If implemented, the legislation aims to place workers at the head of the queue when it comes to payments from a liquidator and would make an unpaid collective redundancy agreement into an unpaid debt in the eyes of the liquidation laws.
Mr Barry said the year-long struggle of the Debenhams workers had inspired his team to draft the bill and have it advanced at the first stage.
He said that the Debenhams dispute really highlighted the “cold cruelty of the liquidation laws to workers”.
“The failure of successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments to change these laws was revealed as well,” he said. “The time for change has come on this issue and if the Government are not prepared to take the initiative, then I’m more than willing to get the ball rolling myself.”
Mr Barry said he would be asking other groups of workers to also show their support, with a view to putting pressure on every TD in Dáil Éireann to support the legislation.
A spokesperson for former Debenhams workers on Patrick Street, Valerie Conlon, said that they fully supported the bill.
“This is another step, hopefully, towards getting the proper legislation in to look after the employees,” she said.
Ms Conlon said that she would be watching the progress carefully and was hopeful that all TDs would get behind it.
“The Debenhams workers are so behind this now. We want people to be looked after in the future and for staff members to be looked after in the future, so it has to be brought in. We are 100% behind it and we really do want everybody to vote yes for it.”