DEBENHAMS workers have staged protests at KPMG offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway today just hours after packers were sent into several s...
DEBENHAMS workers have staged protests at KPMG offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway today just hours after packers were sent into several stores.
taff say that they are “incensed” at the dispatching of packers to stores.
“KPMG are attempting to grab stock from a number of shops. They haven’t listened to workers and made a proposal for a few crumbs. Valuable stock in 11 shops is being protected by workers until a fair settlement is given,” one protesting worker claimed.
Last week Debenhams workers on the Cork picket received support from former Vita Cortex workers.
The workers staged a successful 161 day sit-in back in 2011 at their factory in Ballyphehane, Cork, in a bid to secure a proper redundancy package.
Former Vita Cortex worker, Cal O’Leary, said that he was heartbroken to see history repeating itself with the Debenhams workers now 166 days into their protest.
“We were lucky in that we had visitors coming in and out bringing us food. These women are standing out in the rain. I was with Vita Cortex for 44 years and I know the staff here are also employed a long time.
“I never expected this to happen again. It is a disgrace. Some legislation has to be put in to protect workers,” he said.
“These people worked twenty and thirty years for the shop and surely to be God something should have been put aside for them.”
“I hope this never happens to anyone again. We were promised legislation and never got it. I hope they make a difference this time.”
Cork Debenhams Shop Steward Valerie Conlon vowed they will find the energy to continue until a resolution is found.
“Everyone is a team here. All we are getting is empty promises from the Government. There is money in Debenhams. They have €95 million in the bank. Plus they are selling off their Danish company, which is worth €200 million.
“Whatever about anything else the Government has to change the legislation now for the employees going forward. “
Sinn Fein TD Thomas Gould has called on the government to listen to the requests of Debenhams workers.
“These are not outlandish requests. I support the establishment of a Levy Funds on Private Sector employers for such purposes (with contribution rates ranging from 0.66pc to 0.35pc of labour costs) such as that which exists in Germany and Austria because this will protect workers going forward,” he said.
“These workers are brave and they are determined. They are now involved in the longest running industrial action this state has ever seen and it is time for the government to intervene, put an end to this and give the Debenhams workers what they are entitled to.”
Workers are giving up dozens of hours every week standing outside stores nationwide to prevent stock from being removed onsite.
It is understood that stock across the Irish Debenhams stores nationwide is worth in the region of €20 million.
Workers believe the liquidated stock and cash in the stores should be going into the Irish redundancy pot.
Instead, 2,000 workers spread across 11 shops face receiving only statutory redundancy.
When Debenhams shut their Irish branches just before Easter the company said it was “desperately sorry” to have to liquidate its business in this country.
In a statement the company said that they regretted having to close their Irish stores.
“In these unprecedented times, Debenhams is having to make exceptionally difficult decisions. Unfortunately, our Irish business has had trading challenges which were exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19.
“In the UK, Debenhams has entered into administration in order to protect its business. Regrettably, due to the challenges facing Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd, it is anticipated that an application will be made to appoint a liquidator to the Irish operations.”
Debenhams opened its first outlet in the Republic in the Jervis shopping centre in 1996. Its big expansion in the Republic came in 2006 when it bought the lease for nine Roches Stores outlets nationwide.