Debenhams row: TDs call for state intervention to improve redundancy for workers

Debenhams row: TDs call for state intervention to improve redundancy for workers

TDs say the government should forgo its priority as a creditor to ensure Debenhams staff get a better redundancy package. Picture: Staff pictured protesting outside the Patricks Street Debenhams store on July 11. 

The treatment of shop workers by Debenhams has prompted TDs to push for state intervention so that former staff can get fair redundancy packages.

Solidarity-People Before Profit are pressing the issue in the Dáil, describing the treatment of the staff as "disgraceful". They launched a motion to mandate the government to help the Debenhams workers.

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. 

TDs want the state to forgo its priority as a creditor in order to use these funds to pay for the enhanced redundancy agreed between the workers and the company.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “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 [Bank of Ireland] 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.”

More than 1,000 staff in 11 stores nationwide were told by email in April that they were being let go. They have now been protesting for more than 100 days. 

Staff want a fair redundancy package and say stock in the Irish stores - valued at between €20m and €25m - should instead be going into Irish funds and not moved back to the UK.

Mick Barry TD said, “The liquidator has clarified 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."

Currently, former store staff are are set to receive statutory redundancy, which is set at two weeks per year of service, capped at €600 per week.

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