05 July 2021
TO: EX DEBENHAMS (DRIL) EMPLOYEES (MANDATE)
RE: UPDATE ON POST INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE ISSUES
Further to the last update issued on the 25 June 2021, this is the latest position regarding the following.
€3m Government Fund
The last update provided the names of the five individuals chosen solely from amongst and by the National Shop Stewards’ Group to serve on the oversight group responsible for the fund going forward. As is the standard practice in similar circumstances the Union then chose the name of its formal representative for the group who was the ex General Secretary of Mandate, John Douglas. All names were duly submitted to the principal State body responsible for the distribution of the fund. As indicated in the last update it was genuinely hoped that this would clear the way for the fund to become quickly active and distributed in a meaningful way.
On Tuesday 29 June 2021, the Union received an email purporting to be on behalf of the members of the national Shop Steward Group and this is attached here. It is a fact that this email was copied to a broader group of ex Debenhams workers in an effort to elicit their support. To date the union has received a total of nine emails in this regard. The email which essentially relates to internal Union business was also sent to representatives of Solas prior to the Union being given an opportunity to respond.
Given the nature of the comments contained in the email relating to him, John Douglas was duly appraised of them. He has issued a written response which is attached here.
As he has done on a constant basis during his career of over 40 years’ service to workers in the retail sector, John has once again clearly decided to put the common good and interests of workers first. It is a matter of some regret that the undisputed commitment and expertise that he has acquired over this lifetime of experience will now be lost to the work of the oversight group. He like the Union is not prepared to allow the type of distraction that was generated last week to get in the way of our number one priority which is to see the commencement of benefits contained in the €3m fund getting to as many relevant ex Debenhams workers as quickly as possible. We are confident that this aspiration is shared by the vast majority of ex Debenhams workers who will become eligible to apply to the fund.
The union also wishes to strongly reaffirm that his decision to step aside is not in any way an acceptance of the negative views expressed about him, in fact these are strongly disputed and we stand with him in defending his good name and reputation both now and in the future.
The Union will now proceed to select a replacement for John and in doing so it must be pointed out that it is the sole prerogative of the Union to do so, as it was the sole prerogative of the Shop Steward Group to select their representatives.
Hopefully what has happened during the course of the last week will not unduly delay the distribution of benefits from the fund and the Union will continue to earnestly work in order to avoid this from happening.
Mandate National Debenhams Team