Debenhams Member Update


RE: National Ballot

17th December 2020

Dear Members,

At this stage you should have received a copy (by sms) of the dispute resolution proposal document drawn up by the government appointed mediator Mr Kevin Foley, Chairman of the Labour Court.

As you can see Mr Foley openly recognises that the main element of his proposal, the creation of a €3m fund targeted at training and development, falls short of the ambitions of many members particularly those who have been on picket duty for over 250 days. However he also goes on to state that in his opinion the proposal is the “maximum achievable in a very difficult situation”.

It is more than a matter of regret that it has taken nine months for the preferential creditors to definitively state that they are not prepared to use funds from the liquidation process to deal with the claim presented by the ex Debenhams workers. Hopes of a resolution to the long running dispute were raised following the appointment of Mr Foley as a mediator by the Government however it is clear because of the rigid approach adopted by the preferential creditors the range of options available to him were restricted.

Despite these less than perfect circumstances the time has now come to conduct a ballot of all ex Debenhams members entitled to vote in an effort to determine whether Mr Foleys proposals are acceptable or not. Like everything else connected to this protracted, complex and difficult dispute this decision will not be an easy one to make, but only you the members can make it. Before doing this you must be clear of the consequences arising from how you vote. A yes vote will mean that the industrial dispute comes to an end and thereafter engagement will commence between the union and the relevant state nominated body to decide the most appropriate distribution of the €3 million training fund that is on offer to all union members entitled to vote in the ballot. A no vote will mean that the dispute continues where it is legally permissible to do so.

Regardless of the outcome of the ballot one thing is abundantly clear and that is the urgent need for legislative change that will prevent what has occurred in Debenhams ever happening again. It’s now up to the Taoiseach and his government to deliver on the many positive commitments they have given in respect of this demand particularly those offered by them during the course of the Debenhams dispute.

In the near future you will receive in the post a voting pack containing material that will allow you make an informed decision as to which way to vote. The pack will also contain a ballot paper and a pre-paid return envelope. All I would ask from this point is that you ensure to vote and respect the outcome of the ballot which will be counted in the second week of January 2021.

Yours fraternally
For Mandate Trade Union

Gerry Light
General Secretary

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