Friday, April 09, 2021

Deputy Patricia Ryan, (centre) Cllr Noel Connolly and Cllr Chris Pender on the picket line with the Debenhams workers in Newbridge in February.

AS THE former Debenham’s workers mark their first anniversary on the pickets at the Whitewater Centre today (9 April), the possibility of a resolution could present itself this week when the SOLAS –the State’s Further Education and Training Authority – visit the Newbridge branch on Thursday (15 April) with an updated offer.

“Hopefully, maybe, we’re heading for the path of resolution, because people have got to think about where they’re going with their lives,” said the local Mandate shop steward and 14-year veteran of the department store and College Orchard resident Teresa Connolly.

A year ago today, the British shocked Newbridge and 10 other locations around the country when they used Covid as a catalyst to cut for recent losses, and pull out of Ireland with the loss of 1,100 jobs.

When the firm refused to honour a redundancy agreement than the union Mandate – which represents the 70 staff who lost their jobs at Whitewater – said they had made in 2016 promising four weeks pay per year of service, the Debenham’s workers nationwide picketed the stores.

Since then, both liquidator KPMG and the Government have concurred with the retailer’s interpretation of the small print that the workers were only entitled to just two weeks pay per year of service.

Lat year the State agency SOLAS brought a €3m re-training package to the staff from all 11 stores but it was rejected.

Since then, the union has been pushing the Government to legislate on the Duffy Cahill Report which was instigated after 500 similar jobs were lost in a shock announcement at Cleary’s Department Store in Dublin in 2014.

See the full story in Tuesday’s paper.

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