The liquidators of Debenhams Irish operation, KPMG, have apologised to former workers for breaching a pledge to give their union Mandate at least two hours notice if they were planning to remove stock from any of the 11 stores around the country.

Shortly after 5am, footage was taken of vans arriving at Debenhams Henry Street store and unloading packing materials - a move which had not been notified to Mandate in line with the KPMG assurance. 

KPMG has issued a statement saying that "due to a logistical error, packing materials were delivered to the Henry Street store this morning without prior notice." 

The statement continues: "None of the Liquidators' team were present at the time. This work had been booked two days previously and should have been cancelled in line with the commitment to give notice to Mandate, but went ahead in error.

"The Liquidators have apologised and assured Mandate that there will be no recurrence."

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Since Debenhams Irish operation went into liquidation in April, former workers have maintained pickets on the 11 stores to prevent stock being removed.

They argue that the proceeds of the stock should be ring-fenced to pay the staff enhanced redundancy payments provided for in a 2016 collective agreement. 

On Tuesday, liquidators Andrew O'Leary and Kieran Wallace secured a High Court injunction preventing unlawful actions and any interference with their efforts to remove stock from the 11 former stores. 

Yesterday, the liquidators confirmed to Mandate that over the next few days they would be putting in place the logistics for the packaging and removal of stock. 

However, they gave the following assurance to the union: "In the context of having this Court Order the Liquidators are willing to offer a commitment to notify Mandate at least two hours in advance of the times, and which stores, the Liquidators intend to enter for either the delivery of packing materials or removal of stock.

"As a result, this should relieve the employees of the need to protest 24 hours a day, although we appreciate that this is entirely a decision for the employees.

"For logistical reasons, we do not plan any store entry for the remainder of this week."

Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said that as soon as they were informed of this morning's incident, the union had written to KPMG seeking an explanation, and had received an apology blaming a logistical error.

He said members were furious, "and justifiably so".

"For KPMG to make a commitment to notify the union before any action is taken, and then a crew of men in dark clothing arrive at the store in the middle of the night attempting to intimidate women on an official picket line and remove stock is a disgrace," he said.

He called on the Government to intervene, saying it was the only group that could resolve the dispute amicably.

"They have the means and the ability to change legislation and allow all workers to avail of their collectively agreed redundancy packages, including the ex-Debenhams workers. A large part of the responsibility for what happened last night and what happens in the future will lie at the door of the Government if they do not act now."