Ex-Debenhams workers occupy Waterford store

Ex-Debenhams workers occupy Waterford store

Ex-Debenhams workers have occupied the Waterford store this morning as they fight for better redundancy terms.

Five ex-Debenhams workers have occupied its old store at City Square Shopping Centre in Waterford City this morning.

They are calling for discussions between liquidator KPGM, the company and unions in their ongoing dispute for better redundancy terms.

The occupation follows similar protests in Dublin and Cork.

According to the ex-workers, KPMG has escalated their attempts to remove stock from stores.

A statement released by the protesters said that they have seen adverts for packers in Waterford to come and pack up the stock that remains in the store.

They have urged people not to cross the picket and called for KPMG to withdraw the packers from all stores.

Shop Steward Michelle Gavin, who worked for Debenhams for 27 years, said that the occupation of the store is to fight back against the "attack on stores".

"This occupation is a peaceful protest but a necessary escalation to make sure we are not left with nothing.

"We have been left high and dry without the redundancy packaged that had been promised before.

"We want KPMG to come back to the table for negotiations including shop stewards from the 11 stores to bring a positive end to the struggle the ex-Debenhams workers have faced for 172 days.” 

Ms Gavin said that they were visited by Gardaí this morning and were told that they were trespassing.

"We told them we just wanted to do a peaceful sit-in, we hadn't touched anything and had no intentions of and that we would confine ourselves to the canteen.

"So they said they would have to go away and consult with the owners of the building and would be back later on, maybe today."

Margaret Sinnot, who worked in Debenhams for 15 years, said the picket is still strong and they are as determined as ever. 

”We have been fighting too long and hard to let KPMG come in and try to walk all over us," she said.

The ex-Debenhams workers have said they have no plans to move until they see movement from KPMG back to the table with the workers' representatives for negotiations again.

The Waterford protesters have called on local TDs Mary Butler and Marc O’Cathasaigh to take action on the situation.

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