Debenhams staff plan major pickets demanding for a ‘fair redundancy’

Debenhams staff plan major pickets demanding for a ‘fair redundancy’

By Maurice Garvey

FORMER staff at Debenhams plan a major picket on Saturday (July 18) at 12pm, to mark 100 days of fighting for a “fair redundancy.”

Ever since they were let go on April 9, staff have held intermittent protests at The Square and at other Debenhams stores in Ireland.

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Debenhams staff protesting at The Square, Tallaght

However, since last Saturday, they have stepped up the pickets 24/7 at the delivery entrance to the shopping centre, in an effort to prevent stock from the store being removed to the UK.

Families and supporters are set to join staff in the picket on Saturday as workers, including some 100 former staff at Debenhams in Tallaght, fight for a “decent redundancy package.”

It is an uphill battle, with the liquidator of Debenhams Irish operation KPMG ruling out a payout for redundancy entitlements for workers, and very little support from the Irish government.

Workers believe the stock in Irish stores – valued at between €20m and €25m – should be going into the Irish pot and not moved back to the UK.

At the picket on Thursday lunchtime, with passing cars beeping horns in support of the picket, former staff members say they have received great support from the community.

“It is mostly Dunnes drivers coming in, but all the drivers have been lovely, and we are getting food and pizza dropped off by people,” said Carol Quinn, former shop steward at Debenhams Tallaght.

“Saturday will be 100 days that we have been sacked. We are hoping the government put us in that pot of €20m that Debenhams owes to the taxman.”

Former Debenhams worker Anna Gahan said: “They might like to think we are going to put up and go, but we are not.”

Cllr Kieran Mahon (Sol), who has been supporting the picket throughout, says immediate government action is needed to support the workers.

“There is a glut of jobs in The Square, Debenhams, Inglot, Spiderweb, questions over H&M, Easons – the government need an action plan.

“The State should pursue Debenhams for fraud. Why should the workers be so far down the pecking order.”

An acceptable outcome for workers would be increasing the statutory redundancy from two weeks per year of services, to that of four weeks, which would add €13 million to the cost of redundancy.

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