Former Debenhams workers vote for deal to end industrial dispute

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Galway Daily business Former Debenhams workers vote for deal to end industrial dispute

Former Debenhams workers have voted to accept a deal that will bring to an end the industrial dispute which has gone on for more than a year.

Mandate Trade Unions has said former Debenhams workers have voted for the second time on proposals from Labour Court Chairperson Kevin Foley.

The vote was carried to accept the proposals, with 319 votes cast in favour and 102 votes against.

The proposal will create a €3 million training, upskilling, and business start-up fund backed by the government.

A first ballot held on January 13 of this year rejected the proposal, seeking further clarifications on how the fund would be managed and worker access to the fund.

Debenhams workers have been steadfast in the protesting for the past 406 days since the retailer announced it would not be reopening its Irish branches.

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.”

He added that out of this dispute, Mandate will also be seeking legislative changes to prevent similar circumstances to this dispute from reoccurring.

“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.”