May 7, 2020
Debenhams liquidators must make workers their number one priority – Thomas Gould TD

Thomas GouldSinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould has called on Debenhams liquidators to make workers their number one priority.

A delegation of Sinn Féin TDs met with liquidators KPMG this afternoon and relayed concerns raised by Debenhams workers, who have been fighting for their rights since the company entered the liquidation process on April 9. 

Teachta Gould said: “We met with liquidators today and raised concerns brought to us by Debenhams workers.

“KPMG are currently in the process of a 30-day consultation period with workers and unions, which ends next Friday.

“We have asked KPMG to thoroughly investigate the state of Debenhams’ finances to exhaust every possible avenue to pay workers what they are due.

 “We also implored on them to explore all means, liaising with trade unions Siptu and Mandate, as to whether any redundancies and store closures can be avoided.

“Three of the 11 Irish Debenhams stores  – Mahon Point, Newbridge and Blanchardstown – are profitable and a further four are close to break-even.

“We asked KPMG to press the company to at the very least keep those stores open. 

“I find it shocking that Mahon Point store made a €2million profit in 2019 and could now close, while the Patrick St branch had a loss of just €300,000 – a salvageable figure.

“We also asked if attempts could be made to speak with landlords to see if it was possible to agree rent reductions. It is our information that some landlords would be willing to sit down and talk to the company about that issue.

“There are Debenhams workers with many years’ service who have been treated appallingly and are now facing a very poor reward for their loyalty and dedication.

“The number one priority for the liquidators now must be that workers are paid as much of their contracted pay as possible – redundancy, sick pay, lieu pay – and that all other obligations are fulfilled.

“I believe and am concerned that Debenhams UK have structured the Irish arm of the company in such a way that its assets belong to the UK division.

“It is now up to the government to step in and stop companies taking advantage of this COVID-19 crisis. Sinn Féin have been in constant contact with the Minister for Enterprise, as well as Debenhams, and will continue to fight on behalf of workers to ensure they get what they deserve.”

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