Union warns of 'determined resistance' by former Debenhams workers over redundancies

Debenhams staff block a cash-in-transit van from removing cash from the rear of Debenhams Ireland Cork store, on Merchant Street, Cork, yesterday. Pic: Jim Coughlan.
By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

Former Debenhams workers say they are monitoring the chain’s 11 closed Irish stores and are ready to protest against any further attempts to remove assets after what their trade union described as a “sleight of hand manoeuvre” in Cork.

And their campaign for a fair redundancy has been backed by the former Vita Cortex workers who staged a marathon 161-day sit-in at their former foam factory in Cork in 2011 to secure redundancy payments.

In a statement, the Vita Cortex group said workers should not have to go to such lengths to secure a just outcome: “We stand with the Debenhams workers today as so many people stood with us in our time of struggle. 

"We have not forgotten. We never will. Our love and solidarity to those who have been forced onto the picket lines. Keep it lit.”

Mandate, which represents the Debenhams workers, warned of “strong and determined resistance” as part of the workers’ strike action for fair and improved redundancy which began on Tuesday when their members blocked attempts to remove a significant quantity of cash from the Debenhams store on St Patrick’s St on Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the receivers appointed to the Debenhams Ireland operation, KPMG, said they could not comment on the matter for security reasons.

Following a three-and-a-half hour standoff, the workers agreed to let the van leave.

Mandate’s assistant general secretary, Gerry Light, said: “In Cork yesterday, our members bravely managed to prevent an insidious attempt by company representatives to remove assets from the empty St Patrick’s St location.

“Our members, legally protected by an official ballot for industrial action, stood firm.

“In the event of this type of sleight of hand manoeuvre occurring again, any further attempts by Debenhams to frustrate our official national strike and to undermine our official pickets by attempting to remove assets will be met with strong and determined resistance.”

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