Give Debenhams A Proper Deal

Last night after 250 days on the pickets and with 10 days til Christmas Fianna Fáil’s appointed mediator Kevin Foley on the Debenhams dispute says the best he outcome he can see is some free lessons in the Solas centre.

As the workers have pointed out they would be eligible for free education anyway. What progress have Michael Martin’s talks brought?

The government claim their hands are tied because legislation is not in place. The government have always had plans in motion for themselves- note the pay rises were planned and brought through despite the pandemic. They have consistently demonstrated flexibility for big business demands for payroll support. Where did all the money for the PUP and and wage subsidy schemes come from?

The Debenhams workers are the canaries in the coal mine of what is coming down the road for workers in the Arcadia group and across the retail sector. It’s feared a majority of workers in every business currently availing of the CRSS and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme could face the same fate: liquidation and denial of contractual agreements.

The government’s pay increases for politicians including former Taoisigh this year shows that they make plans and set up contingencies to protect the people who have power. Workers have power too. The Debenhams workers are showing that power now by standing strong for 250 days and saying NO to a NO-DEAL ‘mediation’.

If government parties like Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens had stood for a commitment to workers, then the Duffy-Cahill report’s recommendations would have been in place now. Imagine the government having this approach the retail landlords (who are getting paid by KPMG) instead of the workers. The government parties here have always prioritised landlords and banks over workers because landlords and banks have power. And the FFFGGreens and Labour work to make sure that those powers are happy.  

Workers need to show their power like the Debenhams workers have done for the last 250 days by organising together to look after themselves and their families and futures. People Before Profit stands with them.

Let’s send the Bertie Ahern on a Solas course instead of giving him a pension hike. The money is there. This is a real emergency- change the law now and make sure workers are the most preferential creditors as they are the most vulnerable.

Well done to the Debenhams workers. This deal is what they want to give all workers. We should all say NO. We all deserve a better deal.

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