June 15, 2021
Business News

‘Déise 5’ end occupation of Debenhams store in Waterford to ‘step up our fight’

The former Debenhams workers dubbed the ‘Déise 5’ have ended a five-day sit-in protest at the Waterford City Square store.

The impasse was broken after the five held a meeting with local Government TDs, Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler and Green Party deputy Marc O Cathasaigh this morning.

In a statement this afternoon, the Déise 5 said they have been “utterly disappointed” by the failure of the Government to ensure talks that could deliver a redundancy settlement for former Debenhams workers.

And they have demanded that the two Waterford TD “use their influence with Taoiseach and party leader Micheal Martin and part leader Eamon Ryan to ensure such talks are arranged without delay”.

Michelle Gavin, shop steward for the Waterford store said: “We are sick and tired of words from Government politicians. We want action not words. We want real talks which can deliver a fair deal for the Debenhams workers. If Mary Butler and Marc O Cathasaigh can’t deliver that now for the Debenhams workers then I think a lot of people in Waterford will question what value, if any, they have as public representatives for working people in the city.

“We raised the campaign to heights we never imagined would be possible. We have reinvigorated spirits on the picket line and we have built even more support for the campaign which we will continue to fight – whether we’re inside the canteen or outside on the picket line of the store.”

One of the Déise 5, ex-Debenhams worker Mags Sinnott, said this evening: “Everyone has played their part this week – from us occupying the store, to the people who stopped lorries leaving with stock, to the people who marched on government offices, to everyone who lobbied their TDs to sign the pledge or to all of those who stood and weathered the elements on the pickets. This is not just about five individuals, this is about unity in our fight together for what is right.

“We are more determined than ever to secure a just settlement. We’re leaving that canteen and this building to step up our fight. We feel we achieved as much as we can from the inside this time so we will now rejoin the picket lines to continue our fight to defend the stock which is our leverage.”

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