Around a tenth of the entire workforce at Derry call centre Firstsource have now been suspended, it’s emerged.
The controversy has continued to gather momentum as workers who claim they were suspended without warning or explanation have spoken out and approached local representatives for help.
The company, whose major client is SKY, employ around 1,040 staff in premises on Derry’s Northland Road. Firstsource management are remaining tightlipped about the situation and will only say that an investigation is ongoing.
Speaking on behalf of the Derry Trades Council yesterday, prominent trade unionist Liam Gallagher said the scale of the suspensions was “unprecedented” as numbers increased from 50 to 138 over a period of a few days.
He said some of the workers were experiencing extreme hardship, pain and distress over the way they had been treated.
“We’ve never, ever seen anything like this. The way it has been handled is entirely unprofessional,” said Mr. Gallagher.
“From a trade union point of view you might experience a situation where an individual is suspended, or perhaps where there’s five or even ten people suspended.
“But numbers in excess of 130 are unheard of and one would have to wonder what is behind this.”
The ‘Journal’ revealed on Sunday that some staff had learned of their suspensions from colleagues.
“When someone is suspended, they should know what that is about,” said Mr Gallagher.
“To be told arbitrarily or to hear this information second hand is unacceptable and hard to believe it would happen in a company of this size in 2015. The people affected are people on low wages, many of whom have families to support. This is very, very worrying for them.”
Mr. Gallagher appealed for management at Firstsource to engage with local representatives as soon as possible.
“This has gone too far,” he said.
“Had Firstsource allowed unions to organise within the company, we may well have avoided a situation like this.
“We’re now offering the company a chance to sit down with us and discuss the best way forward for those workers affected,” said the trade union leader.