Debenhams workers to stage protests at six Irish stores over treatment by the company
Debenhams workers say that, in their opinion, the company is trying to “avoid paying decent redundancy to workers who’ve served them for many years”.
Debenhams workers are to stage protests outside six Debenhams stores in Ireland on Tuesday (21 April) at what they deem to be unfair treatment by the company.
Earlier this month, Debenhams revealed that, due to trading challenges that had been exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is to liquidate its operations in Ireland and close all of its 11 stores across the country, adding that it did not expect the majority of them to reopen.
On Monday, Debenhams staff revealed their intention to protest their treatment by the company at six stores in Dublin and Cork tomorrow (21 April).
In a statement, Debenhams workers said that the move by the company was, in their opinion, “to try avoid paying decent redundancy to workers who’ve served them for many years, some going back to Roches Stores”.
“Some staff are still there who helped launch Debenhams into Ireland in 1996,” the statement read.
The workers said they felt their voices have not been heard since the closure of Debenhams stores in Ireland was announced.
They are also of the belief that Debenhams is using Covid-19 as “a convenient way to bail out of Ireland” and also to “take advantage of the Covid-19 restrictions to silence the voice of staff”.
The protests will take place at 11am on Tuesday at six stores (see below) which will fully respect social distancing.
Dublin: Henry Street, Blackrock, Blanchardstown and Tallaght
Cork: Patrick Street and Mahon
Workers will stand two metres apart outside the stores during protests they feel are necessary, given they are “fighting for their jobs, livelihoods and futures”.
Workers who cannot attend the protests at the stores due to restrictions, meanwhile, will also stage social media protests outside their own homes.
Debenhams workers are also calling on other retail workers and the general public to support them following the announcement that Oasis, Warehouse and Laura Ashley stores are also to close.
The treatment of Debenhams workers has been condemned in a statement by SIPTU, representatives of whom have committed to challenging the manner in which a collective redundancy notice was served by the company.
At the request of the company, the High Court appointed provisional joint liquidators over Debenhams on Thursday 15 April. SIPTU and Mandate representatives held a remote meeting with the joint liquidators and management on Friday 16 April to discuss the situation.
SIPTU Organiser, Myles Worth, said: “The manner in which the collective redundancy notice was served on workers at the company on 14 April was premature and not in line with statutory obligations. It is our intention to pursue this issue at an appropriate time in the future.
"At the meeting on Friday, 16 April, management outlined the sequence of events which led to the appointment of the liquidators to the company’s 11 stores in the Republic of Ireland.
"It was stated that on 8 April, when the stores' UK-based parent company, Debenhams Retail Limited, applied for administration it decided to end its support for Debenhams Retail Ireland Limited. As the Irish company was loss making, this left its board with no other option but to apply to the High Court to seek the appointment of provisional liquidators.”
“Staff were not provided with adequate information concerning this process and have not been provided with any redundancy package,” Worth added.
“This is completely unacceptable treatment of this loyal workforce, particularly during this period of great uncertainty.”
JOE has contacted Debenhams for comment and has yet to receive a response.