Concern over Invista agency staff treatment

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A leading trade unionist has expressed concern after fifteen agency workers turned up for work at one of Derry’s biggest employers only to be told they no longer had a job.

Liam Gallagher, chairperson of Unite, described the treatment of the workers who had been on temporary contracts at the Invista plant at Maydown as “Dickensian”

The workers were let go on January 31, but details have only emerged in recent days.

The ‘Journal’ understands the fifteen workers - employed through an external agency - turned up for work at the Maydown plant but were immediately informed they no longer had a job.

Furthermore, it is claimed the workers were escorted through the plant and asked to leave the premises immediately as they were deemed a “health and safety risk.”

Mr Gallagher says it is vital all workers are afforded the same rights.

“This was a humiliating and demeaning experience for the workers involved. Invista has an exemplary record here over a long period of time and we at Unite have an excellent relationship with them. But it is absolutely essential that they ensure that every employee is treated with dignity and respect in the workplace and that all employers apply decent standards of employment practice.”

Thomas Dubois of Invista last night confirmed the agency staff had been asked to leave the plant.

“Invista did not intend to be demeaning to anyone,” he said.

“Rather Invista takes seriously its duty of care to ensure a safe workplace for all employees and recognised the employees might have been upset..”

He said the affected agency employees contracts had come to an end on January 31 and the external agency had been notified that this was the case.

Mr Gallagher says anyone employed through an agency should consider union representation.

“Unite urge all workers to join a union as the best form of protecting their employment rights,” he says.

He says in many ways agency workers are “caught in no man’s land” in terms of their rights.