Call for Government to act and bring end to Debenhams Dispute

by Rachel Darcy

Mandate Trade Union has called for “definitive action” from the Taoiseach and the Irish Government to end the on-going Debenhams dispute, with today marking 200 days of the workers on the picket line.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary said the ex-Debenhams workers deserve the support of the State in resolving the dispute, which has lasted more than half a year.

The letter reads: “Surely after two-hundred days our striking Debenhams members deserve and need to see some definitive action by Government aimed at bringing their current plight to an end.

“Therefore, we are now calling on you to immediately proactively intervene and use the significant influence and power of your office to help build the circumstances that will facilitate a speedy resolution to the current dispute.”

Mandate and the ex-Debenhams workers are looking for their agreed redundancy package to be implemented, which would see workers receive of four weeks pay per year of service.

This is along with the implementation of the Duffy/Cahill report, which could prevent a similar scenario occurring to other workers in the future.

Mr Light said: “Our members have picketed through some unimaginable weather, with many pickets operating 24/7 for more than half a year.

“They are mostly women and many have decades of service working with the company. Some are grandparents. Some have been arrested, or intimidated by Gardai. And some have been physically threatened on the picket lines.

“This has gone on for far too long and it’s time the Taoiseach proved that his words are more than empty rhetoric.”

He added: “The argument that the government cannot rush legislation holds no currency anymore. They are well able to rush through legislation to seal records from the Mother and Baby Homes, but they argue that they haven’t had enough time to resolve this issue – an issue that we have been campaigning on since 2014 when the Paris Bakery dispute happened, and subsequently when Clerys entered liquidation.

“It’s clear these workers and others who are still losing their jobs and their livelihoods are not a priority for this Government.”

“We are asking all TDs to sign the Debenhams pledge to change the law and resolve this dispute. So far we have TDs from all parties, bar Fine Gael and the Green Party, who have signed the pledge and we will be making that list known to our members and the members of all other trade unions in Ireland soon.”

He concluded: “This campaign continues, and it will continue right up until the next General Election, but it only does so because of the resilience and determination of the inspirational Debenhams workers who were not prepared to back down after 50 days of industrial action, 100 days of action, or now after 200 days of industrial action.

“They have shown real leadership over the past seven months. It’s now time for those in leadership positions to match that and resolve this dispute.”

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