Interview with striking Debenhams worker

Militant Left spoke to Debenhams worker Pauline about the ongoing industrial action taking place in stores across the country following the company’s decision to pull out of the Republic of Ireland. The workers are now fighting for a fair redundancy package of 4 weeks per year of service.

  1. Why did the workers from Debenhams decide to take industrial action?

97% of participants voted in favour of industrial action to stop stock and other valuable assets being removed from stores. We the workers have vowed to block attempts at stock removal until we get a fair redundancy deal from Debenhams. The stock in the 11 Irish stores is our leverage and bargaining power with the company to achieve this.

  1. How do you think these demands can be achieved?

We think this can be won by putting political pressure on our government to intervene with the liquidator, KPMG and investigate Debenhams who are using the Irish courts to attain a tactical and contrived liquidation, where they are allowed to avoid paying their employees and creditors. The U.K. parent company are stripping the Irish arm (subsidiary) of all its assets and leaving behind only debts and employees. For our government to allow the continuation of loopholes that allow fraud against ordinary working tax paying people, creditors and the state is just not acceptable. We hope a Bill will be passed that ensures limited liability and corporate restructuring are not used to avoid a company’s obligations to its employees.

  1. How can the broader labour movement assist this struggle?

We ask that anyone who wishes to join our cause and help prevent the stock being removed from the store to visit the picket and show their support. Since the picket has gone 24 hours we have seen imense support from people willing to stand alongside us and we ask anyone who is willing to help to join us. We also hold regular rallies which are vital for gaining support from the public and hopefully attracting attention to the injustice taking place. The wider community have already showed us amazing support, and we continue to ask for your support until the fight for our rights is finished.

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