Ban KPMG from removing stock, say former Debenhams workers

Protestors are back on the picket line, following a temporary ceasefire, after the former workers voted down a Government deal by a majority of 91%
Ban KPMG from removing stock, say former Debenhams workers

Former staff are back on the picket line after the 'ceasefire' ended when the former workers voted down by a 91% majority a government deal which offered them a €3m training fund. Former staff (from left) Annette McSweeney, Ellen Manning and Delores Mulcahy at the goods entrance of the Patrick's Street store in Cork City. Picture: Larry Cummins

The Government has been called on to immediately ban Debenhams liquidator KPMG from removing stock from the 11 shuttered stores during level 5 lockdown.

The company refused to comment on whether it would attempt to remove stock despite current public health restrictions.

This, protesters say, has “forced” them to maintain strict pickets, increasing their risk of exposure to Covid-19.

“We’re out during level 5 lockdown now because KPMG thinks that packing stock is essential work when it isn't," Valerie Conlon, Mandate trade union shop steward, who worked in the Patrick Street store, in Cork said. 

"We feel that KPMG is going against all the principles of what the Government is trying to do, trying to lock down Covid-19 so it won’t spread.

Not only are KPMG going to put people that they employ in danger, they’re also putting us in danger because we now have to go out and picket.

“The Tánaiste said he can’t tell KPMG not to do it. They’re asking the whole country to lock down but they’re not asking KPMG to do this. Why is KPMG different to everybody else?’"

Ms Conlon said the protesters were "very concerned" about maintaining the picket due to the virus. 

“We are being very careful but the danger is out there no matter how careful you are," she said.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry, who has been campaigning on the issue, called on the Government to immediately ban KPMG from removing stock during current public health restrictions.

“This is clearly not essential work. KPMG should not be keeping open the possibility of removing the Debenhams stock in a level 5 lockdown,” he said.

And the Government, who give KPMG a lot of business, should make it clear that this is simply not on.” 

This week, former Debenhams workers voted down by a 91% majority an "insulting" Government deal which offered them €3m for a training fund.

But the former workers say they are already entitled to training courses and some are nearing retirement.

They have called for that €3m to be used instead to top up redundancy payments for the workers, who were made redundant when Debenhams Ireland went into liquidation in April. 

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