Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 June 2020

Debenhams: Workers made to pay for Covid-19 crisis - nationalise to save jobs

Protesters in Ireland outside Debenhams 30 April photo Stand With Debenhams Workers

Protesters in Ireland outside Debenhams 30 April photo Stand With Debenhams Workers   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, Usdaw Broad Left chair

As a warning of the coming recession we are now entering, Debenhams went into administration in April last year, with 22 stores closing, and all but 39 of the remaining stores having rent reductions. Fast forward a year, and Debenhams is back in administration again, with more store closures looming.

First, the company disgracefully announced the closure of its Irish business, comprising 11 stores - while transferring its profitable Irish online business to the UK parent company, as well as all of the leases and assets in stores. The workforce was to receive no redundancy pay from the company.

As we've reported, workers in the stores, members of Mandate, the main Irish retail workers trade union, held protests outside stores and the Irish parliament. Since an attempt to remove assets from the store in Cork they have been holding pickets outside stores to block this.

But meanwhile, here in Britain, where a greater number of stores are due to close - 17 in total, with a few more still hanging in the balance - there has been no such campaign from Usdaw. During this crisis the union's only public action has been to issue a press release calling Usdaw "the trade union for Debenhams staff", and to call on Debenhams to recognise Usdaw.

Given the brutal way it has treated Mandate members in Ireland, where the union was recognised, it's a totally utopian position to think they'll listen to Usdaw doing less!

Since then the company has announced more than 1,000 jobs within the company are to go, as it starts to reopen its doors on 15 June, both in head office and in services in-store, such as cafés that won't be opening under social-distancing guidelines. The company is refusing to continue furloughing them, and is making them redundant with immediate effect, without any notice or consultation period.

Understandably, these workers, who didn't know their jobs were at risk until they were told they were redundant, are outraged. The restaurant manager of the Debenhams store in Sheffield told the local newspaper: "We all just feel really let down... some of my staff have worked there for more than 20 years... Debenhams is still getting help from the government. I don't understand why they need to let us go right now when they could have kept us on for another month and we'd still get furlough pay."

Debenhams is just one of a number of companies entering into administration at the moment. The latest additions to the list have been footwear company Aldo and lingerie company Victoria's Secret.

Unless a concerted campaign to defend jobs in the retail sector is waged, Debenhams may end up being the first of many big retail chains which stays in business by making workers' pay. That's why Usdaw supporters in the National Shop Stewards Network have called for a day of action of protests outside Debenhams stores on 15 June.

We'll be expressing our solidarity with Mandate members in Ireland fighting for their jobs, as well as calling for Debenhams to be nationalised to save jobs. Usdaw should be urgently raising the question of public ownership to save jobs, as outlined in the 2017 Usdaw conference proposition adopted after the collapse of BHS.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 10 June 2020:

Black Lives Matter

Fight racism and class inequality. "Seize the time!"

Black Lives Matter protests sweep country: How can the movement win?

Mass protests erupt

Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist

Capitalism = racism: "You fight capitalism with socialism"

"We're going to fight racism and capitalism with socialism"

France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes

Socialists call for trade unions to join the fight


Tories backtrack in England - Stand firm for school safety

Oppose the Welsh government's reckless return to school plan

Workplace news

Non-essential retail to open - Organise at work

Debenhams: Workers made to pay for Covid-19 crisis

Workers' union and campaign group fights Derby Rolls-Royce job cuts

Homerton Hospital - withdraw private contract


Test-and-trace fiasco - the ringing of the cash till

Coronavirus pandemic news in brief

BAME coronavirus deaths - an indictment of capitalist inequality

Lessons from history

Roosevelt's New Deal programme - reforms to save capitalism


Ken Douglas: A tireless and determined fighter for socialism

Campaigns and reports

Why we joined the Socialist Party

Donate so we can raise our socialist message

Domestic violence murder

Readers' opinion

As a health worker, I had to march against racism

Readers' opinion: Things will never be the same


Home   |   The Socialist 10 June 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleDefend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks

triangleCovid, capitalism and mental health

triangleIndia's health system in meltdown under Modi's misrule

triangleDon't trust the Labour right's empty promises

triangleCovid and precarious workers - union organisation vital


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleSt Mungo's strikers fight on

triangleGo Ahead offers deal to Manchester bus drivers

triangleBeal High School strike against sick policy resumes


triangleNottingham NHS pay protest

triangleBellway must pay! Make our homes safe!

triangleFor a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks


triangleHow to deal with the tax-dodging mega-rich? Nationalise!

triangleNationalise Liberty Steel to save jobs


triangleLong Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services


triangleUsdaw's virtual annual conference - a mockery of union democracy

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleGoodlord strikers fight fire and rehire as part of day of action

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



St Mungo's strikers fight on


East London

Goodlord strike forces talks - solidarity needed


National Education Union

Four Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive



For a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks



Go Ahead offers deal to Manchester bus drivers



Beal High School strike against sick policy resumes



Bellway must pay! Make our homes safe!



Police attempt to intimidate Newcastle protesters



Nottingham NHS pay protest



Establishing factory sales of the Socialist in Leicester


Tony Mulhearn

Plaque dedicated to Tony Mulhearn


Socialist Party

Why you should join the Socialist Party



Defend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks



Sparks block Cardiff building site against deskilling



Vote 'yes' in the PCS DWP ballot

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021