Irish Examiner View: Workers need protections

Debenhams workers misused
Irish Examiner View: Workers need protections

Former Debenhams workers continue their official pickets of Debenhams stores across Ireland on Day 149 of the official picket.

As private-sector union influence wanes, the difficulties faced by some workers increase exponentially. 

The gig economy, zero-hours contracts, and the prospect of soul-destroying insecurity are all used to kow workers who find themselves without choices or basic protections.

This regressive slide is exacerbated by the great changes in towns and cities once alive with viable retail outlets. 

Traditional retailing and the great number of jobs it supported are challenged, in some cases fatally, by our relentless shift to online shopping. 

Rents that seem beyond any rational explanation play a part in this hollowing out too.

Many of these issues come together in the case of the 900 or so Debenhams workers who were laid off 150 days ago. They have been offered derisory redundancy terms and some are blockading stores to ensure stocks are not removed until they secure a better deal. 

One union activist suggested most workers were offered a redundancy package well short of €1,000 each despite some having worked for Debenhams for 20 years or more. 

Workers vote this week on new proposals though they still seem far below anything that could be described as modest, much less generous.

Workers should not be exposed or exploited in this way and should be protected by the Government. If legislation to underpin that protection does not exist then it should be quickly enacted to protect the most vulnerable.

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