Mandate Trade Union has said the joint liquidators of Debenhams, KPMG, in seeking High Court injunctions against three striking workers who are demanding the implementation of their agreed redundancy package was both regrettable and totally avoidable.
Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said these workers are law-abiding and are simply demanding what is owed to them.
“It should never have come to this. These workers should have had the protections of the law, but sadly our government refused to back the Debenhams workers and now they’re being intimidated by means of High Court injunctions.
“If the government parties had supported the Joan Collins motion two weeks ago and agreed to implement the necessary legislation to allow these workers, and all other workers, access to their redundancy entitlements, we would not be in this situation,” said Mr Light.
“Instead, they’ve allowed our members to stand on 24 hour pickets in all sorts of weather for 182 days. So the blame lies with the current and previous governments, but it’s not too late, they can make these legislative changes next week if the political will was there.”
Mr Light explained how the union had spoken to the workers concerned and to a number of other members who were frightened, but say they will not be intimidated.
“It’s always frightening for a worker who has abided by the law their whole lives to be served with legal papers late in the evening because of the actions of their employer, and the inaction of the government. They deserve better than to be treated like this.”
Mandate is calling on all parties, particularly the government parties, to speed up the process of finding a political solution to this dispute which will be six months old tomorrow.
“We will be attending a Business Committee hearing in the Oireachtas next Tuesday to discuss this situation and we will be making it very clear that the Debenhams workers and all other workers in the state are deserving of respect. That means urgent action from the government.”
Commenting on the actions of Mandate members on picket lines, Mr Light said:
“It is our contention that the pickets are and have always been lawful until proven otherwise.”