I met with Gerry Light, Mandate and Debenham workers in July, along with Minister of State Damien English, who has responsibility for Business, Employment and Retail, and Minister of State Robert Troy who has responsibility for Company Law matters. Minister English met with ICTU in August where they outlined proposals concerning the treatment of collective agreements. Minister English responded to ICTU on 10th September confirming that he would consider the matter with myself and Minister Troy with a view to exploring the proposal and any other related issues in a Forum which would ensure participation by senior stakeholders and members of the Government. Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy, in Private Members’ Business in the Dáil on 16th September, both affirmed the Government’s commitment to detailed and serious consideration of the proposals and committed to involving worker and employer representatives in that process.
Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy are both working with officials on the range of issues which are currently being considered in the context of Debenhams. They met most recently with officials on 1st October, and are committed to meeting soon with the Social Partners. The issues under consideration are complex. Nevertheless work on this has been prioritised and continues.
There is a Programme for Government commitment to review whether the current legal provisions surrounding collective redundancies and the liquidation of companies protect the rights of workers effectively. I have asked the Company Law Review Group to undertake an expedited review of this commitment as it relates to company law, to be completed before the end of the year.
The Government fully appreciates how difficult the situation is for those involved and their families. All relevant state agencies are working in a coordinated way to support those who have lost their jobs. The State will guarantee statutory employment rights to the workers of Debenhams, including statutory redundancy and will provide job-search assistance and upskilling opportunities.