Mandate delegation meet Taoiseach in effort to resolve Debenhams dispute

Thursday 19 November 2020

A Mandate Trade Union delegation comprising of Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary and three ex-Debenhams shop stewards, Jane Crowe (Henry St, Dublin), Valarie Conlon (Patrick Street, Cork) and Michelle Gavin (Waterford), met this morning with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and a team of senior officials from his department in an effort to find a solution to the protracted Debenhams dispute.

More than 1,000 workers lost their jobs in April of this year as the company entered liquidation. Since then, the workers have been on strike for 224 days.

Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said: “We used the opportunity to once again urge An Taoiseach to use his office to create the circumstances which would bring an end to the current dispute.”

In a briefing to Debenhams members on the outcome of the meeting, Light explained, “He  (An Taoiseach) said, notwithstanding current statutory constraints, he and his team were continuing to explore how this might be done and they were in the process of identifying a suitable individual or body who might be able assist the parties in arriving at a mutually acceptable resolution.”

He added, “Importantly the Taoiseach committed to meet again with the union delegation early next week in order to update us further.”

Hygiene Baseline. Pre Covid-19 Global Snapshot

Two out of five people in the world do not have a hand washing facility with soap and water on premises.  Almost half of the schools in the world do not have handwashing facilities with soap and water available to students.  We do not know the proportion of health care facilities in the world that have functional hand hygiene facilities with soap and water or hand sanitizer.


▪ Frequent and proper hand hygiene is one of the most important measures that can be used to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus
▪ There are two main routes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus: respiratory and poor hygiene
▪ The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies, and based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low
▪ Currently, there is no evidence about the survival of the COVID-19 virus in drinking-water or sewage
▪ Conventional, centralized water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection should inactivate the COVID-19 virus
Source: Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus – Interim Guidance 23 April 2020, WHO and UNICEF

Women in the World of Work

As the Citizen’s Assembly prepares for sessions on Women in the world of work, we examine some of the issues they will be discussing.


Taoiseach commits to meeting Mandate and Debenhams workers

Mandate has today (Friday, 13th November) welcomed the commitment from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin to meet with the Union. The meeting will be an opportunity to resolve the protracted dispute involving 1,000 ex-Debenhams workers and the Union is looking forward to productive engagement between the parties.

Debenhams workers have been on strike for 218 days after their employer filed for liquidation during the Covid lockdown. The workers are seeking their agreed collective redundancy package of four weeks pay per year of service.

Mandate has informed Debenhams members of this development and has reached out to the Taoiseach’s office to arrange a suitable date. Further information will be made available as developments occur.

Talks at WRC to end Debenhams dispute end without resolution. An Taoiseach must act now!

Monday 2 November 2020

Following an invitation by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) representatives of Mandate Trade Union and the Debenhams Liquidators (KPMG) met on Friday 30 October 2020 to participate in an ad hoc process aimed at exploring ways which might assist the parties find a mutually acceptable resolution to the Debenhams industrial dispute. Despite best efforts to find a solution to the impasse the WRC talks broke down without agreement.

In a letter issued today to An Taoiseach Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary pointed out the following:

 “Union representatives present gave a clear indication they were prepared to move towards a negotiated settlement as long as a commensurate reciprocal approach was forthcoming from the other side. Regrettably instead of making an effort to bridge the gap between the parties the Liquidator was only prepared to propose a sum of money which was considerably less than that offered two months ago. I think it is fair and reasonable to suggest that such an approach is less than helpful in establishing circumstances whereby a mutually agreed settlement might be reached.”

This second letter follows an initial letter dated 22 October 2020 from Mandate to An Taoiseach calling for “definitive action” to end this long running dispute which to date remains unanswered. Commenting following the WRC hearing Mr Light said, “What’s even more concerning we learned at Friday’s engagement at the WRC there is now a high probability that the current asset value of the liquidated Debenhams (DRIL) business might be depleted by the end of this year. This would largely come about through the increasing and additional expenses/costs that the Liquidators will have to meet. If this reality does transpire it means not only will the ex- Debenhams workers lose out but the State will potentially forego many millions of euros that fall due as a preferential creditor. Surely knowing this the current Government cannot sit idly by and allow such a double travesty occur. Exceptional circumstances requires exceptional solutions and creative leadership, therefore, we need An Taoiseach to cease the soundbites and end the platitudes. These workers demand and deserve urgent action”

In the letter to An Taoiseach, Mr Light said:

“Clearly the window of opportunity for proactive intervention is limited and the best way to ensure that the current value of the assets are protected is for the Government to immediately use its influence and power to facilitate the conclusion of the ongoing industrial action. Anything less will send out a clear message that you are willing to allow the remaining assets of the business be distributed to a range of other private parties and interests ahead of the State and those who need and deserve them most, the workers.”

 Calling for exceptional measures to be taken in exceptional times, the letter from Mr Light further states:

“It is an indisputable fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has generated many unprecedented challenges resulting in the introduction of a range of exceptional remedial actions by the State. Some of these are temporary such as the suspension of a worker’s right to claim redundancy following a period of lay off and the introduction of both the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. What happened to the 1,000 workers in Debenhams (DRIL) was as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and therefore the current dilemma they find themselves in and any potential alleviation of same can only be achieved through equally creative and exceptional measures.”

Mr Light concluded, “These brave ex-Debenhams workers have shown true and inspirational leadership in exceptional times. It’s now well past time for An Taoiseach and the Irish Government to demonstrate similar leadership and put workers first for a change. Mandate stands ready to play our part in reaching a satisfactory resolution to this unfortunate but avoidable dispute. Time is running out so the State must act immediately before the assets end up disappearing altogether.”



International. Britain A Corrupt State: The Miners Strike

From The Morning Star

PARDONS for Scottish miners convicted during the great miners’ strike of 1984-85 are a victory won through years of determined campaigning.

Former mineworkers, their relatives and trade-union and Labour campaigners such as MSP Neil Findlay can be proud that they have won justice for working-class people fighting for their livelihoods whose reward was brutality and persecution by the British state.

And the Scottish government should be congratulated on its ready acceptance of the need for a pardon in line with the recommendation of the independent inquiry led by John Scott QC, to “remove the stigma” from innocent people who in far too many cases “lost their jobs and futures through being arrested,” in the words of National Union of Mineworkers (Scotland) president Nicky Wilson.

The next step, as Wilson makes clear, is for the labour movement of all the nations of Britain to use Scotland’s decision to press the British government to agree to an inquiry into the behaviour of police during the miners’ strike – in particular regarding the police riot at Orgreave in June 1984. Early Day Motion 904, laid down in the Westminster Parliament by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, calls for exactly that and more MPs of all parties should be lobbied to sign.

Successive home secretaries have rejected calls for an inquiry into the unprovoked police assault on unarmed pickets outside the Orgreave coking plant.

Excuses include that policing has changed so much since that there is nothing to learn; that nobody was killed at Orgreave, and there were “no wrongful convictions.”

This is only because the trials of miners the police attempted to fit up for riot – a charge that could have resulted in life imprisonment for those convicted – collapsed when it became clear that police evidence had been manipulated. There is strong evidence that officers colluded to falsify statements on what happened that day.

The true reason governments are afraid of an Orgreave inquiry is because it could expose the role of the British state in the decisive class confrontation of the Thatcher era.

The miners’ defeat paved the way for the gutting of countless communities and an accelerated demolition of trade-union and labour rights across the board. Trade-union resistance to the media demonisation of miners was one motivation for Rupert Murdoch’s determination to break the print unions at Wapping in 1986.

Thatcher’s triumph enabled the fire-sale privatisation of public assets – aerospace, telecoms (BT), oil (BP), gas, airline (BA), water, electricity and steel under her own government, with rail and mail to follow. It saw the creation of the neoliberal economy resting on an underpaid, insecure workforce, disciplined by the existence of mass unemployment.

This deregulated, super-exploitative model is the child of Thatcher’s victory, which is too often portrayed as representing the inevitable march of history – when in fact, as Seumas Milne has exhaustively demonstrated in his book The Enemy Within, the entire might of the British state was mobilised to ensure the miners lost. This involved the police, secret service, army and of course the BBC, which at Orgreave famously reversed the footage so the public saw images of miners charging the police when in fact the police had charged first.

No-one who observed the similarly broad mobilisation of generals, spooks, Civil Service, MPs of all parties, press barons and the public broadcaster to smash the most recent serious challenge to rule by the richest – the Jeremy Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party – can imagine that the ruling class today is any less ruthless.

With public confidence in capitalism at a low ebb and millions ready to challenge Thatcher’s legacy, small wonder that her heirs are unwilling to shed light on the dishonesty and savagery deployed against those who resisted the birth of the neoliberal era.

All the more reason why the truth about the miners’ strike and the British state’s role in it must be exposed.


International News. USA Workers on Strike

All over the globe courageous workers are standing firm and fighting for what is theirs. We at TULF salute all of the Proletariat globally and may they stand together in solidarity. Meanwhile in the US Iowa Highway Workers go on strike for more on this story click on this link


‘No basis for public service pay negotiation’ – Fórsa

Absence of new agreement would create ‘very difficult’ industrial relations environment

Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan has told members of the union’s Consultative Council today (Thursday) that there is currently no basis for a negotiation with the Government on a new public service pay agreement.

The current agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) expires on 31st December.

Kevin addressed the meeting of the union’s branch representatives this morning, and expressed disappointment at the lack of progress made in recent months with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) despite discussions with the DPER minister, Michael McGrath TD, in July.

A scheduled meeting with DPER this week had been postponed because officials had yet to consult with the Minister to establish the basis for any negotiations.


He said a scheduled meeting with DPER this week had been postponed because officials had yet to consult with the Minister to establish the basis for any negotiations. He told union representatives: “We’re in an uncertain period, where stability and certainty are at a higher premium than usual, and that is what a comprehensive national agreement would be designed to deliver.

“However, as it stands, it is not even clear if we will be entering into negotiations. That means there is now a grave risk that we will find ourselves, perhaps unintentionally, without an agreement at the end of the year.

“The absence of a successor agreement would mean that there is nothing in place to guarantee industrial peace, nor any direct mechanism to resolve sectoral disputes. It would make for a very difficult industrial relations environment. Let’s be clear, it will be the Government’s responsibility if that happens.

“If we enter 2021 without an agreement, we’re looking at a period of uncertainty and instability, so we must begin preparations for an alternative strategy, chiefly the formulation of claims to be submitted to employers when the current agreement expires on 31st December,” he said.

Without an agreement we must begin preparations for an alternative strategy, chiefly the formulation of claims to be submitted to employers when the current agreement expires at the end of the year.


Kevin is due to brief other public service union leaders tomorrow (Friday) at a meeting of the Public Services Committee (PSC) of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

He said the basis of negotiations for a new public service agreement would need to address specific austerity measures, include an acceptable approach to pay, and provide a clear path to resolving particular long-standing issues within public service grades, groups and categories, ensuring an ultimate resolution in each case. He said these priorities had been outlined to DPER officials as the basic requirements of any negotiation.

Kevin acknowledged that the reversal of additional working hours, introduced under the 2013 Haddington Road agreement as an alternative to an additional pay cut at the time, remains a priority issue for the union.

The current Programme for Government commits to a successor agreement to the PSSA, which sets pay and working conditions for staff across the civil and public service, including voluntary hospitals and other ‘section 38’ bodies. Public service pay agreements are also applied in non-commercial State agencies.

It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

KBC refusal to attend the WRC deeply disappointing

Issued : 20 October 2020

KBC has no regard for proper industrial relation mechanism

The refusal of KBC to attend a WRC conciliation meeting with the Financial Services Union (FSU) has being described as disappointing and the actions of a Bank that has no regard for the official industrial relations mechanisms in the Republic of Ireland. This is according to Gareth Murphy, Head of Industrial relations and campaigns with the FSU.

The FSU had written to the WRC requesting a conciliation meeting on outstanding issues with KBC on proposed redundancies and the closure of hubs

KBC have informed the WRC in writing that they engage directly with employees and that this works well.

According to Gareth Murphy, it is clear from past history that KBC internal engagement procedures are flawed and do not meet normal standards of industrial relation procedures.

“In 2018 the WRC made a recommendation on a complaint involving KBC stating “that there was a shortfall in how the complaints were investigated”

It is deeply disappointing that KBC continue its policy of not recognising the Financial Service Union.

It is not too late for KBC to change their mind, sit down around the table with the FSU and reach a solution to any outstanding issues. We remain available to meet at any time concluded Mr Murphy

The issues around the closure of hubs and redundancies have now being referred directly to the Labour Court by the FSU.


Contact Brian McDowell

Head of Communication and Public Affairs

Financial Services Union

PH: 0879161225


Financial Services Union: Ulster Bank.

Save Our Ulster Bank Helpline

Issued : 20 October 2020

Concerned about your future in Ulster Bank? Call our Ulster Bank helpline for members this Wednesday, 21 October 12-6pm. Give us a call on our freephone numbers (ROI) 1800 819 191 (NI-GB) 0800 358 0071 or email us at

FSU is committed to working to achieve clarity and to save Ulster Bank. Staff and customers deserve a clear statement for their future. Over the last number of weeks, we have been building a coalition of voices to save our Ulster Bank. We now need to escalate our campaign to Save Our Ulster Bank as further doubt exists of the intentions of NatWest towards the Bank. We will fight for your jobs and for customers, branches and services. We will build this campaign over the coming weeks to achieve our goals and secure your futures.

We encourage all our members to support our campaign and carry out one simple action today. Click here, select your constituency and contact your TD’s asking them for support. It couldn’t be easier and will only take you two minutes.

We will need your active participation in this campaign over the coming weeks. In order to achieve maximum protection for members, it is imperative that we as a Union continue to grow and strengthen, therefore we would ask all members to encourage non-members in your areas to join FSU and show your support in trying to save our Ulster Bank jobs. Email this link today