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Congress demands “action not sympathy” for Debenhams workers

Date Released: 16 September 2020

THE Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has reiterated its full support for the official strike action by Debenhams workers, members of Mandate trade union. Congress is demanding Government intervention to break the deadlock in the dispute.

Gerry Light, General Secretary, Mandate updated Council members on the ongoing dispute at its meeting today.

Mandate Trade Union had negotiated a redundancy package for Debenhams staff in 2016 which included four weeks’ pay per year of service. However, when the company entered liquidation earlier this year, the liquidator reported that there were no assets to pay their 1,000 staff leaving them with statutory redundancy of 2 weeks’ pay per year of service.

Executive Council members urged An Taoiseach to introduce legislation to protect terms and conditions of employment in the event of receivership.

General Secretary Patricia King said the Government “must offer more than sympathy to the Debenhams workers”. She called on public representatives to support “the ongoing attempts by Mandate and Congress to find a resolution to the situation in which workers find themselves.”

She said: "Proposals put forward jointly by Congress and Mandate are intended to address the concerns of Mandate and its members in this trade dispute immediately, based on well-established international best practice.

The resolution of this dispute requires legislative change and we call on all Oireachtas members to take the necessary steps to ensure this happens forthwith. The best interests of the workers will only be served by swift political action, not sympathy, platitudes, or political point-scoring. Congress and Mandate will continue to make ourselves available to discuss and expand on any details of our proposal.“

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