In this Film Ireland podcast, Gemma Creagh talks to filmmaker Joe Lee about 406 Days, which is screening at this year’s Still Voices Film Festival (November 15th – 19th 2023).
The film 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.
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 is screening at Still Voices 23 on 10th November at 2pm the Bog Lane Theatre Ballymahon. Followed by a Q&A between director Joe Lee and film critic Tara Brady.