FORMER Debenhams workers have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to set up a €3m fund in a last ditch bid to end a long-running dispute.
Mandate members have rejected a Government offer to set up the fund that was part of a dispute resolution process facilitated by Labour Court chair Kevin Foley.
A total of 393 former workers voted against the proposal and 37 voted in favour of the 430 workers who cast votes.
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 entitlements.
Over 1,000 workers lost their jobs when the high street chain went into liquidation at the start of the pandemic last April.
“The proposal document stated that the Government would establish a €3m training, upskilling and business start-up fund, but crucially, prevented the workers from accessing cash from the fund,” said Mandate in a statement.
It said Debenhams shop stewards will meet to decide their next steps “in their campaign for a fair redundancy package and changes to legislation to ensure workers are not treated like this in the future”.
Mr Foley agreed to become involved in the dispute following a request from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.
The Government agreed due to “exceptional circumstances” it was willing to set up a fund administered by Solas, with an advisory committee to include union officials.