Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon has urged Minister Heather Humphries to ensure Debenhams do not appoint a liquidator until the Covid-19 crisis has passed and the, almost 2,000, workers in Irish stores are afforded the opportunity for a full industrial relations process, which is not possible under current conditions.

Mr Gannon pointed out that these workers have had to deal not only with temporary lay-off in recent weeks due to Covid-19 measures but now the reality that they have no job to go back to and no facility within which to engage with the employer as this unfolds. He said the timing seemed designed to disadvantage the workers and ensure thy did not have the full weight of union representation behind them during the process and it was now incumbent on the Minister to intervene.

“At this time workers, who have received the most awful news regarding their employment, cannot meet with their union representatives, or hold any kind of meaningful talks as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. This puts the workers at a significant disadvantage.

“It has been made clear that Debenhams do not intend to pay redundancy and employees have been told to see free legal advice or contact the Citizen’s Information website for help. This is simply unacceptable and there is a clear imperative now on the Minister to step in and pause this liquidation process until the workers are in a position to avail of a full and robust industrial relations process with every possible support afforded to them within that process.”

15th April 2020

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