Ciara, 30 years old
Michelle, 33 years old
Aisling, 27 years old
Andrea, 33, years old
Union: Mandate, Ireland UNI Commerce
When the English department store Debenhams in Ireland went into liquidation in April 2020, over 1,000 workers lost their jobs. For the last 175 days they have been in the picket line fighting for the redundancy payments they are owed.
Many of these workers are young workers. Ciara, Michelle, Aisling and Andrea are some of the faces in the picket lines, braving the weather each day to fight for their rights.
“We are here fighting for 2+2, which is 2 weeks statutory redundancy and 2 weeks additional that was agreed through collective bargaining in 2016” said Michelle. “I'm here fighting for the money we're entitled to, our redundancy payments that were accepted in a collective bargaining agreement. I don't want my 14 years of service to go to waste. I'm here standing up for myself and all workers” added Andrea.
Together, these young women add to 53 years of service but are relatively new to the union culture. They joined when the company they previously worked for, Roches, was bought by M&S and Debenhams, transferring all the conditions along with the union culture.
The picket line has become their classroom. Through the struggle itself, they have learned the purpose of the union, its history, its culture and they have found strength in each other.
Today they have a message each for our young workers:
“It's important to join a union to have the knowledge base of what your work rights are, that when you're working for big companies that you know that you have a voice. Join your union, inform yourself and stand up for your rights” - Ciara
“It's important to be in the union because otherwise they'd walk all over ya. We wouldn't even be here fighting for what we're entitled to if we didn't have a union. My message to other young workers would be a simple one, join your union! It's solidarity amongst workers that will help us win the fight” - Michelle
“It's important to join a union because without it we have no way to demand and fight for what we are entitled too. Join your union! Without it I would never have known what's going on. It helped me a lot in understanding how the world works” - Aisling
“Unions are important so you don't get screwed over, if you're not in a union you haven't a leg to stand on. My message to young workers is: Stand up for yourselves! fight for your rights! We're here and even if we get nothing out of it we know we stood up and fought for what is right” – Andrea