Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) took part in a solidarity action today with Debenhams Workers outside their Foyle Side department store. Organised by their shop workers union Mandate, representatives from the Cork and Dublin branches attended to help highlight the way in which the multinational chain store have treated workers since they closed stores throughout the 26 counties.
A number of members from the trade union movement in Derry attended the mid-day rally on Foyle Street and reiterated calls for the Irish government to act now by introducing emergency legislation in an effort to ensure workers are first consideration in any liquidation and prevent asset stripping.
A representative of the IWW Branch in Derry spoke following today's action stating: "This was an important solidarity action in an effort to help extend solidarity with Debenhams Workers across the southern Debenhams network, who are involved in a ruthlessly battle with their former bosses. Its important to have been able to travel to the city for solidarity but also to highlight that Debenhams, a major corporate company, have literally took a shit on their staff from a great height. Their former bosses have refused to pay wages owed to them as well as cough-up a suitable redundancy which has yet to be addressed.
"The determination that their former staff members have shown is important as they remain confident and completely determined to stand their ground until they get what is rightly owed to them. We agree that no shock should be allowed to leave ANY Debenhams stores across their network of branches in the south until they formally pay promised enhanced redundancies to their former staff members.
"From todays action we have learned that there are eleven Irish Debenhams stores now closed as we extend the call made by workers here today in calling for the Irish government to act immediately to introduce whatever emergency legislation required to ensure these workers are first consideration in any liquidation and prevent further asset stripping of this company in Ireland".
Todays solidarity action was supported throughout by members of the IWW workers picket line samba drummers and the event rounded off with an excellent rendition of the old Wobbly anthem 'Joe Hill' by a very talented local musician.