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Shopworkers' union demands urgent talks with Debenhams as 2,500 jobs set to be axed

SHOPWORKERS’ union Usdaw sought urgent talks with Debenhams administrators today in a bid to save 2,500 shop and warehouse jobs.

The department-store chain announced that it was scrapping the roles of sales manager, visual merchandise manager and selling-support manager as part of a restructuring process.

It comes four months after Debenhams hired administrators in a protective measure to ward off creditors demanding to be paid.

The retailer has already cut hundreds of jobs since lockdown began, permanently shutting 18 shops.

Usdaw said that it was concerned that the necessary consultation process was not taking place, adding that the union is preparing a legal challenge on behalf of the affected members.

National officer Dave Gill said that Debenhams had contacted members being made redundant by conference call without “meaningful” consultation or the “proper” notice period required by law. 

“That is an appalling way to treat staff,” he said.

“Yet again, it appears that the taxpayer will have to pick up the bill for what is owed to sacked staff because administrators are deliberately flouting the law. 

“It’s absolutely disgraceful that businesses can get away with this sort of tactic in the 21st century.”

The government needs to end the “perverse” financial incentive for employers and administrators to avoid complying with legal obligations, Mr Gill said. 

“We again urge the administrators to engage with Usdaw, the trade union for Debenhams staff,” he added.

“It’s crucial that the staff and their voice should be heard, that they are treated within the law and with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

A Debenhams spokesman said the company would “continue to take all necessary steps” to give itself “every chance of a viable future.”

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