Tuesday, January 12, 2021

FORMER Debenhams employees are back on the picket as a ballot is due to take place on proposals put forward by the Government and a mediator to resolve the issue.

The proposals put forward by mediator and Labour court Chairman Kevin Foley would see the Government establishing a €3 million fund for training, up-skilling and business start-ups for the 1,200 former employees who lost their jobs when the Debenhams Irish operation went into liquidation last April.

Former Shop Steward for the Waterford Debenhams store, Michelle Gavin, said the proposal “wasn’t good” and that “all those picketing are extremely disappointed and angry about this.”

Ms Gavin said the former workers were back on the picket as a ballot must take place, which is being done as a postal vote due to Covid-19.

“We are angry about this as we are already very skilled workers and there are already many courses available for free to us as they are to any worker who finds themselves unemployed,” she told the Waterford News and Star.

“Indeed, many of the staff have already availed of these free courses,” Ms Gavin added.

On January 4, almost one hundred ex-Debenhams workers from across the 11 stores met via Zoom to discuss the proposal. A statement online by former workers read that their “immediate focus” is to secure the “maximum possible ‘No’ vote to the proposals”.

“The offer, which amounts to a training fund, is not worthy of acceptance. Instead we demand that the government, as an absolute bottom line, converts the €3 million training fund into cash to fund part of the settlement we say we’re due,” the statement read.

“Assuming rejection of the offer, we will consider proposals for the continuation of our struggle mindful of the grave situation with Covid. Specifically our objectives will include the prevention of the removal of stock by the liquidator KPMG until a fair settlement proposal is made,” they added.

Tom Hogan on behal of the UNITE Union paid a visit to the Debenhams workers at City Square to make a donation on behalf of the union. Photo: Joe Evans

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By Jade Wilson
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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