Former Debenhams workers and their supporters in Waterford had a four-hour standoff with gardaí last night.
According to WLR FM, the workers have been holding a picket at the rear of the City Square premises for over a year in an attempt to prevent stock being taken from the store.
The row is over redundancy packages for the staff, many of whom had worked for the defunct chain for decades.
Last night the situation came to a head when the stock was removed on behalf of liquidators KPMG.
Protesters claim gardaí forcibly removed them from the picket line. However, Waterford gardaí say they engaged with protesters on foot of a high court order.
They say everyone was compliant and the stock removal passed off without incident.
This is becoming a feature of the #Debenhams dispute, which is main strike in country right now. Waterford last night.
Laws, gardai, whole state apparatus arraigned against workers fighting for rights. Yet @LeoVaradkar talks of helping retail workers.#PassDebenhamsBill pic.twitter.com/am6GOrKJgZ
— Ruth Coppinger (@RuthCoppingerSP) May 11, 2021
Earlier in the year, online fashion retailer Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55 million (€62 million) in a deal that will see the eponymous department store name survive, but the company’s remaining 118 stores close for good.
The deal will see Debenhams products sold by Boohoo from early next year, allowing enough time for liquidators to continue closing the retailer’s sites once they are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.
But with stores closing across the 242-year-old brand, it is unlikely many of the remaining 12,000 jobs will be saved.