Mandate Members Accept Ballot Proposals to End the Lengthy Debenhams Dispute

Thursday 20 May 2021

Ex-Debenhams workers have voted for the second time on proposals put to them by Labour Court Chairperson Kevin Foley today (Thursday 20th May 2021) with 319 Votes in favour and 102 votes against the proposals.

Speaking after the ballot count Gerry Light Mandate General Secretary said, “Today’s ballot outcome is testament to the strong will and resilience of our striking members who refused to accept defeat in the face of adversity.  These brave trade unionists maintained their legal pickets no matter the weather and in the midst of a global pandemic they socially distanced on picket lines whilst facing down the government and KPMG at every opportunity. We acknowledge this is not a perfect deal as it falls short of our members original demands, however, it represents the best achievable negotiated settlement under very difficult circumstances.”

The proposal document endorsed by the ex-Debenhams employees creates the establishment by Government of a €3 million training, upskilling and business start-up fund. Following the first rejected ballot on Wednesday 13th January 2021 further clarifications were sought by our members on a range of issues contained within the proposal including how the fund would be managed and worker access to the fund. Government department officials from Solas provided invaluable assistance in this regard over recent weeks leading to the positive ballot result today.

Mr Light further stated, “Collectively, we have finally reached a satisfactory outcome but we must continue to strive to ensure that the fund delivers the maximum benefit possible for the ex-Debenhams workers. Another key objective for Mandate emanating from this dispute is to vigorously pursue legislative changes to ensure circumstances similar to this dispute are prevented from ever happening again. We must, without any further delay, have these legal protections urgently delivered by Government in order to protect workers into the future. Delivery on this key objective will not be made easy but we are fully committed to making this happen to honour the legacy of our ex-Debenhams members and their incredible trade union fighting spirit.”