Former Debenhams staff say they are prepared to be arrested

Former Debenhams staff say they are prepared to be arrested

An official picket by members of Mandate Trade Union at the goods entrance to Debenhams, Mahon Point, Cork. Picture: Larry Cummins

Former Debenhams staff say they’re prepared to be arrested rather than end their campaign for a fair redundancy.

Shop steward Valerie Conlon, who used to work at the St Patrick’s St branch in Cork city, said she and her colleagues have spoken about the threat of an injunction, which will be considered by the High Court next week.

But she said they remain defiant as their campaign reached the milestone six-month mark on Friday.

We haven’t come this far to step back now. By stepping down now, what will we get? Nothing. It’s six months since we started this. How can we give up at this stage? It’s in the government’s hands now

The former staff lost their jobs when the chain closed its 11 Irish stores in April. They have been picketing the stores as part of an official industrial action for months.

KPMG, the joint provisional liquidators of Debenhams' Irish operation, has now sought High Court injunctions to restrain allegedly unlawful actions by former Debenhams’ employees and others at any of the stores.

KPMG’s Kieran Wallace and Andrew O’Leary of KPMG are also trying to halt interference with their efforts to take possession of the company's stock and other assets, so that their value can be realised as part of the liquidation.

They have alleged that the behaviour of individuals is causing severe disruption to the orderly wind-down of the company’s operations.

And they said that while they have “little doubt” some of those involved in the actions are motivated by frustration and anger over their treatment by the Debenhams group, there is “unfortunately nothing” the liquidators can do to meet their demand of an additional redundancy package of some €13m, on top of statutory redundancy entitlements.

The injunctions are being sought against three named individuals: Stephen Troy of Fairfield Close, Belvedere Manor, Co Waterford; Denis O’Brien of Sunrise Crescent, Browns Road, Co Waterford and Carole Bridgeman of Meadowpark Lawn, Ballyvolane, Co Cork.

The matter is due before the High Court again on Tuesday.

Ms Conlon said she and her colleagues are aware of the consequences if they defy the injunction.

“We aren’t giving up and there are 30 willing to be arrested,” she said.

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