October 28, 2020
Business News

Ex-Debenhams workers occupy Waterford store

Six former Debenhams workers have occupied the now closed store at City Squate Shopping Centre in Waterford.

The protestors said they are calling for talks between KPMG and Debenhams and the shop stewards and their representatives, Mandate Trade Union, “to discuss how online business could be used for their agreed redundancy package for the ex-Debenhams workers”.

A spokesperson for the workers said this morning: “Over the last number of days, ex-Debenhams workers have seen KPMG escalate their attempts to remove stock from other stores while they have made no efforts to make a reasonable attempt to uphold their word on the previously agreed two weeks statutory pay plus two weeks pay per year worked.

“To add insult to injury, KPMG are now hiring scab workers to cross the picket to pack stock in other stores. Ex-Debenhams workers in Waterford have seen the adverts for packers in Waterford and are urging people not to cross the picket and for KMPG to withdraw these non-unionised workers from all stores immediately.”

The protesters also called on local Government TDs, Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler and Green TD Marc O’Cathasaigh, “to use their position to take action for their situation which is a devastating blow for workers in Waterford City and others across the country”.

Shop Steward, Michelle Gavin, an ex-Debenhams worker of 27 years who is one of the six occupying the store, said: “KPMG have launched an attack on stores this week to try and grab stock so we’re fighting back. 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.”

Margaret Sinnot, another ex-Debenhams worker who has worked at the store for 15 years, added: “We have been fighting too long and hard to let KPMG come in and try to walk all over us. The strike has been ongoing for 172 days now, the picket is still strong and we are as determined as ever.”

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

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