Produced by Fergus Dowd and directed by Joe Lee, 406 DAYS tells the story of the 1,000 Irish Debenhams workers who were made redundant through a generic email on the 9th of April 2020 after Debenhams UK Retail Ltd closed all 11 Irish stores including their flagship store on Henry St. Dublin 1. The workforce, 95% female, had been denied an earlier agreed redundancy package.
They voted to go on official strike and blocked stock being removed from the 11 stores by the liquidator. The workers remained on the picket lines, through the Covid 19 pandemic for 406 days, making it the longest industrial dispute in Irish labour history. It finally ended in May 2021 through a compromise government-sponsored proposal based on a retraining fund.
In Ireland KPMG made more than €6m from the liquidation process it is unclear where this money will go. To date only €519k of the €3m training fund has been taken up that is only 17% of the fund – out of the two thousand workers only 243 people used the scheme.
It is likely more than €2.9m will be returned to the state in October 2023 when the fund ends.
But the telling of the very human stories of courage, determination, and friendship that lay behind the conflict are told here for the first time in 406 DAYS -The Debenhams Picket Line.
406 DAYS – In Irish cinemas on May 26th