The £55m purchase by fashion retailer Boohoo of Debenhams' online business will have no implications for the liquidation of Debenhams' Irish operations or for redundancy payments of former employees, the Mandate trade union has been told by Irish liquidators KPMG.
Mandate represents almost 1,000 Debenhams workers, who lost their jobs when the Irish operation went into liquidation last April.
General Secretary Gerry Light said he had contacted the Irish liquidators KPMG this morning seeking information on the implications of the Boohoo purchase.
Mr Light said he had been told that the UK sale had "no implications at all" for the Irish liquidation, dampening hope of any additional funds being made available to boost redundancy payments for the Irish workforce.
Since Debenhams' Irish operation went into liquidation last April, workers have been campaigning for enhanced redundancy payments provided for in a 2016 collective agreement.
They have been picketing outside the 11 Irish stores preventing the liquidators from removing stock, which they argue should be ringfenced to fund the additional redundancy payments.
They had also argued that the value of Debenhams online operation should be used to boost redundancy entitlements.
The Mandate leader said he was today writing to Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle outlining the Irish situation, including the "severe reputational damage" caused to the Debenhams brand in Ireland by the dispute, and the failure to honour the 2016 redundancy agreement.
He said he would be appealing to Mr Lyttle to have regard to the plight of the Irish-based workers, and the value of the brand going forward.
Mr Light said the sale of the online elements of Debenhams only raised fears about a growing trend, whereby retail was moving online, with the "bricks and mortar" element abandoned - with huge implications for jobs.
"There seems to be a developing trend for companies to hoover up traditional retailers who are in trouble at basement prices and placing them online," Mr Light commented.
He also said he would be writing yet again to the Taoiseach, stressing the need to implement legislation to deliver better protection for workers caught up in similar redundancy situations.
Before Christmas, a report by Labour Court Chairman Kevin Foley found that the Debenhams liquidators KPMG could not do anything further to boost the workers' redundancy payments within the current legal framework, and that their 2016 collective agreement had no legal application.
The report also noted that Debenhams' online operation was owned by the UK business, which is a separate entity from the Irish business.
His review proposed a €3m government-backed training fund for the Debenhams employees, but they rejected it in a ballot, because the proposals did not deliver actual cash payments to workers.
The Debenhams workers have now been picketing the Irish stores for over 290 days.