Interview with Debenhams Shop Steward Jane Crowe

1.Almost one year into this dispute ex Debenhams workers who are mostly women, will be marking International Women’s Day on picket lines across the country. How do you hope to see the struggle move forward, and how can working class people and trade unionists provide assistance?

International Women’s Day is celebrated in most countries around the world. I use to say to my friends and colleagues “happy International Women’s Day” every year without thinking what it really stood for. So this year the women who worked in Debenhams are strongly promoting the day to emphasise women’s rights in the work place.

Our employer walk away, from their mostly female staff, without paying our hard fought for agreed redundancy package. Then we were told that our agreement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. The Government claim they had to pick up the bill for our statutory redundancy payment but I recently pointed out to the Taoiseach Micháel Martin that they may have handed the coffers out but I paid my own €14,700 package out of my 24 years’ service and contributions.

As a result of all this we strong women of Ireland, who were raised by strong women and for those with daughters are raising the strong women of the future, are fighting for the rights of all workers in Ireland to make sure that what happened to us never happens again.

We have and still are talking with government ministers about new protective legislation to be introduced in the very near future. We aren’t giving up we are still looking for the €3 million training fund to be turned into cash. At the meeting on Monday 1st March we told the Taoiseach that we are not going away.

2. Retail, healthcare and teaching are all sectors dominated by women, and have experienced the impact of the pandemic first hand. What would you say to workers facing into the same battles against the bosses that you and your fellow strikers have been waging since last April?

We are asking the working class people, especially women because, let’s face it, if what happened to us in a predominantly female industry was to happen in a predominantly male industry this would have been resolved very early on, to come join us on the day whether physically or on social media and have your voices heard and say “No More”.

Women are the back bone of this country. Not only do some of us work for employers but we also work in our homes every day looking after our families etc. Never give up, equality must be across the board, everyone’s rights must be treated equally.

If you are not a member of a union use International Women’s Day as they day you join one and get organised in your workplace.

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