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fighting on Former Debenhams staff vow to continue picket despite arrests


Job losses: Debenhams' flagship store on Henry Street in Dublin lies boarded up. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Job losses: Debenhams' flagship store on Henry Street in Dublin lies boarded up. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Job losses: Debenhams' flagship store on Henry Street in Dublin lies boarded up. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

DEBENHAMS workers have vowed to continue their fight for redundancy packages despite the arrests of four supporters at a protest at the former store on Dublin's Henry Street on Thursday night.

Jane Crowe, a former Debenhams worker for 25 years and a shop steward for the Mandate trade union, said workers will regroup after the distressing scenes in Dublin in which former workers and supporters claim they were subjected to heavy-handed tactics by gardai.

Four people, none of them ex-Debenhams employees, were arrested for breaching Covid regulations on Thursday night and were released without charge early today.

The workers had been picketing at the Henry Street store for enhanced redundancy packages and to stop liquidators KPMG from removing stock from the store. Protesters barricaded themselves into the loading dock to prevent the stock from being taken.

A video from the scene shows people gathering in the loading bay with a number of gardaí present while protesters can be heard saying "up the workers" and "we shall not be moved".

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett joined workers at the picket line.

Posting a video of the protesters on Twitter last night, he said: "On Parnell street. Hundreds of gardaí acting in collusion with KPMG trying to break the year long Debenhams strike in the middle of the night.

"Come down to support if you're around. This is a fight for all workers."

Fellow PBP TD Paul Murphy also tweeted: "Waking up to see all the stories of gardaí forcibly removing Debenhams workers and helping KPMG break their protest by removing stock in the middle of the night in Henry Street. Shame on them, KPMG and Debenhams. Solidarity with the workers."

In a statement, KPMG responded with a statement this evening which read: "The liquidators are simply seeking to complete the process which is entirely lawful based on the court order which the liquidators received from the High Court a number of weeks ago.

"It is worth noting that all employees have received all of their legal redundancy entitlements."

But Ms Crowe said the union is still trying to negotiate with Debenhams for a better redundancy package than what they have been offered since the retail chain was liquidated on April 9, 2021.

The State has offered them a €3m support fund to facilitate retraining, education and business start-ups, but it was rejected by workers seeking cash payments.

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Ms Crowe said the statement from KPMG claiming that their redundancy payments are a done deal will add further fuel to the fire.

"It's a fairly poor response to what went on. They were aware that we're in negotiations and the matter could have been resolved in the next two to three weeks," she said.

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