Fierce Waterford Debenhams Picket Faces 40 Gardaí At Midnight

Waterford Debenhams Picketers and Supporters Hold Scab Trucks on Closed Streets

Debenhams Workers say they are “proud to have stood up for our rights”.

Just after midnight Sunday night until 5:30am Monday morning over 40 Gardaí were used to help KPMG remove stock form the Debenhams store in Waterford.  It was a military style operation which included 20 member of the Public Order Unit. Picketers were removed to facilitate scabs taking the stock out of the shop while Covid restrictions were still in place.  The whole of the centre of Waterford was blocked off to allow this operation to happen under the direction and protection of the Gardaí for the benefit of KPMG’s liquidation and to facilitate government policy against giving workers their agreed redundancy.

Shop steward Michelle Gavin described what happened to People Before Profit:

“They blocked off all the streets and barricaded us in. Some of them came over to speak to us and asked us to leave. But we said we had been there for 12 months and we weren’t going to give up now. So they handed me the High Court injunction. We were carried outside of the barriers”.

Michelle said she was angry but proud. The workers are angry at the government and KPMG for not doing anything to try and resolve the dispute: “What happened last night was unnecessary. The government has shown no willingness to sort this out. It did not need to come to this but we are proud of the stand we have taken not just for us but for all workers”.

The workers are also angry at their union for not doing enough to support them: “they have let us down and still are”.

This Friday would have been 400 days on the picket in total for the Waterford workers. “We are entitled to stand up for our rights and I am glad we did.  We put workers’ rights back on the agenda.”

The actions of the Gardaí were condemned by Brid Smith TD. She repeated People Before Profit’s call for Drew Harris “to consider his position given the manner in which the Gardaí have weighed in against the workers”.  She also called “for repeal of the 1990 Industrial Act which allowed KPMG to get injunctions against the workers. The right to strike and use effective picketing must be defended”.

People Before Profit salutes the Waterford Debenhams workers and we stand with them. Our members were present at the Waterford pickets and were also removed by the Gardaí. We stand in solidarity with all workers who take action to defend their jobs, pay and conditions.