Justice for Debenhams Workers

In Seanad Éireann Mary called for justice and fair treatment for Debenhams workers who have been treated appallingly by their former employer.

The “great British retailer” Debenhams opened their first shop in 1996 in the Jervis Centre.  Their business grew and they expanded to the old Roches Store shop on Henry Street and an additional 10 shops around the country.

On April 9, 2020 under the cover of Covid19 Debenhams moved their Irish retail business on-line, closed their 11 shops and left more 1500 frontline, low paid workers high and dry.  Most of these workers are working women, many of them working mothers with families to support. 

More than 100 days on and even though Debenhams is still open for business in Ireland they have denied their workers redundancy payment. 

Since April the Government has supported Debenham workers with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and will provide a statutory redundancy package. 

It is unacceptable however that Debenhams have failed to honour their obligations under the collective agreement they made with their employees and their union Mandate. 

The workers request is simple. 

Debenham workers are asking Debenhams to pay them the two weeks redundancy payment they are owed under their collective agreement. 

Mary supports Debenham workers request for fair redundancy treatment according to their collective agreement. 

In the Seanad Mary asked that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment instruct the liquidator to put employees at the top of the hierarchy of creditors and pay them their redundancy when liquidating Debenhams’s Irish holdings.  

Secondly Mary asked that the Minister takes immediate action to ensure that all workers are protected in insolvency arrangements in the future.