In the Dáil this evening, Solidarity- People Before Profit will move a motion to resolve the Debenhams dispute which would mandate the government to help the Debenhams strikers.
The motion calls on the government to notify the liquidators that the state forgoes its priority as a creditor and that these funds would be diverted to pay for the enhanced redundancy agreed between the workers and the company. It also would require the state to initiate negotiations with Bank of Ireland in order for the workers to receive the full redundancy package that was previously agreed with the Debenhams company.
The motion also calls on the government to use its influence through the state’s shareholding in Bank of Ireland. The bank is part of a consortium that now effectively owns Debenhams UK. The motion is asking that the bank play a positive role in ensuring that the workers receive a fair redundancy package.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD, speaking at the media event, outside Dublin’s Convention Centre, accompanied by fellow Solidarity- People Before Profit TDs and Debenhams workers, said: “Our motion tonight would see that the government does what it is supposed to do and stand by these workers who have been treated in the most appalling manner by Debenhams.
“The Irish state must now forego its priority status as a creditor so that these funds can be directed to the enhanced redundancy package that these workers are owed. The actions by the Debenhams company are abhorrent and a disgrace and the new government needs to step up to the plate and draw a line in the sand against this outrageous treatment of workers.
“We bailed out the bank in 2008 and they must now accept some responsibility for the way workers have been treated. The state still has a significant share in this bank and it is utterly immoral that they are acting in this way towards these workers.”
Mick Barry TD said: “The Debenhams strike is the first strike of the coronavirus era and will go down in the annals of the Irish labour movement as a historic dispute.
“Debenhams have reopened 122 stores in the UK and have a highly profitable online business – they are well able to afford to pay the cash needed to settle this dispute.
“The liquidator has clarified that they can only allocate increased cash to the workers if instructed by the Government.
“If the government can’t get Debenhams to pay up, then they should get the Revenue to agree that their slice of the pie goes towards a just settlement for these workers who have been treated so badly.”
Speaking at the media event, Debenhams shop steward, Jane Crowe, said: “As an ex-employee of Debenhams and having been treated so appallingly by them, my colleagues and I are very grateful to have Solidarity- People Before Profit put forward this motion on our behalf.
“It is about time that workers are put to the top of the list of creditors ahead of companies who take the risks in business. We are not the risk takers, we are just working to pay our mortgages/rents, bills and to put food on the table for our families.”