Fianna Fáil Leader and TD for Cork South Central Micheál Martin says Debenhams management has a responsibility to its Irish staff and must engage with trade unions to ensure that a redundancy package can be reached.
He was responding to the announcement last week that the company has gone into administration in the UK, and that the Irish stores are to be liquidated and closed. Debenhams has referred its staff in Cork to State supports and is not offering them a redundancy package.
Deputy Martin said, “I am deeply disappointed with the way that Debenhams is handling this very sensitive process. The company appears to have completely disregarded the efforts that its staff in Cork, and across the country, have made to keep it afloat. Workers in Mahon Point and Patrick’s Street have gone above and beyond to try and secure a future for the retailer – from working overtime, accepting time in lieu instead of pay and agreeing to a range of other work practices to prevent the Irish arm of the company from going under.
“Staff are rightly angry and frustrated at their treatment following the announcement of the liquidation. Despite receiving assurances from management, company bosses have decided to save the UK stores at the expense of the Irish ones – including the two Cork outlets. The fact that they are not offering a proper redundancy package to the Irish workers is appalling.
“Many of the workers in Cork have been with the company for decades – going back to the Roches Stores days. Their entire working lives have been dedicated to the retail sector in Cork and now they are being left with only the basic State supports, with no recognition from the company. This is no way to treat staff.
“My office has been engaging with some of the workers, and I have given them my full support. I will be writing to Debenhams, outlining its responsibility to its staff and asking management to review its current position. I don’t believe it is right or fair for the company to walk away without any sense of responsibility to its staff. I will also work with the trade unions to what other avenues are open to staff to progress this issue”.