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Government to set up €3m fund for former Debenhams workers

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Debenhams staff at a protest marking 250 days of fight. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Debenhams staff at a protest marking 250 days of fight. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Debenhams staff at a protest marking 250 days of fight. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

The Government has agreed to set up a €3m fund for former Debenhams workers following an engagement facilitated by the chair of the Labour Court Kevin Foley.

Mr Foley agreed to become involved in the dispute following a request from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.

The engagement, which went on for three weeks, ended yesterday.

The Government has agreed due to "exceptional circumstances" it is willing to set up a fund administered by Solas, with an advisory committee to include union officials.

It is understood the fund will be used to provide training and career guidance for the workers to help them plan for the future.

The Department of Social Protection and Revenue are preferential creditors and owed €18m.

But they concluded that it was not possible to fund the full redundancy payment sought by the workers.

Sources said there is no cash left in the business, while €4m has been spent on rent, security and other costs.

They said there is no guarantee that stock would recover its estimated €12m cost if sold.

Pickets

The former staff have held sit-ins and mounted pickets in pursuit of a redundancy package worth two weeks pay per year of service on top of statutory redundancy.

They say this package was agreed with the company in a collective agreement in 2016.

The State has paid €13m in statutory redundancy payments.

It is understood the unions will now ballot members on the outcome of the talks.


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