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Ex-Debenhams workers occupy Waterford store

Workers from around the country have been protesting since April in a dispute over redundancy terms.

Image: Michelle Galvin

A NUMBER OF former Debenhams workers have occupied the now closed store at City Square Shopping Centre in Waterford City this morning.

The five workers are calling for talks between liquidators KPMG and Debenhams and their representatives to discuss how online business could be used for their agreed redundancy package.

Workers from around the country have been protesting since April in a dispute over redundancy terms after 1,000 workers lost their jobs when the chain went into liquidation.

The company had four stores in Dublin, two in Cork and others in Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Tralee and Waterford. Some Irish workers had almost 30 years’ service at Debenhams.

Former staff have said that the offer made by KPMG – understood to be in the region of €1 million split between staff – is “insulting”.

In recent weeks packers were sent to a number of stores to collect left-over stock which can continue to be sold online. Workers today said they have seen the liquidators “escalate their attempts to remove stock from other stores” in the last number of days.

They have called on people not to apply for packer jobs and not to cross their picket to do the work.

Shop Steward, Michelle Gavin, an ex-Debenhams worker of 27 years and occupying the store the occupation this morning is “a peaceful protest but a necessary escalation to make sure we are not left with nothing”.

“We have been left high and dry without the redundancy packaged that had been promised before. We want KPMG to come back to the table for negotiations including shop stewards from the 11 stores to bring a positive end to the struggle the ex-Debenhams workers have faced for 172 days.”

The ex-Debenhams workers in Waterford have said they have no plans to move until they see movement from KPMG back to the table with the workers representatives for negotiations again.

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