Waterford’s team of Sinn Féin elected representatives have signalled their support for a fair resolution to the current dispute between former employees of Debenhams and the companies liquidators KPMG. Pickets have been in place at stores across the state for almost 180 days and last Monday workers in Waterford staged a one week occupation of the store in City Square Shopping Centre.
Cllr McGuinness said:
“These workers have been let down by their former employer, by the liquidator, and by the failure of this Government and its predecessor to defend workers.
The last number of years has seen a growth in ‘strategic liquidations’ by large retailers. This is where less profitable parts of a business are wound down, but not before assets are transferred to another part of the business, out of the reach of creditors including suppliers, local authorities, Revenue, and workers entitled to redundancy payments.
“Many of the workers in Debenhams’ Irish retail operation have given two or three decades of service and were part of a redundancy agreement with the company. In closing their doors “Debenhams, and its liquidators, are refusing to honour those agreements and pay the redundancy that these workers are due. At the same time the wider Debenhams business including its outlets in Britian and its online store in Ireland continue to do business.
“The Government parties voted against a Dáil motion last month to protect workers in this predicament. Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler and Green TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh refused to give a commitment to back legislation that would class agreed redundancy rates as preferential debt in the case of a company being declared insolvent.”
“This is already the longest running industrial dispute in Irish history. These workers deserve fair treatment and to have their decades of service acknowledged. Companies cannot be allowed to use corporate tricks and sleight of hand to deny workers their entitlements. Government cannot continue to bury their head in the sand or look the other way. “