Firstsource dispute: Derry Trades Council will give workers legal advice

The First Source building at Springtown Industrial Estate. DER0115MC008
The First Source building at Springtown Industrial Estate. DER0115MC008

Derry Trades Council have said they are now prepared to give legal advice and support to workers at an under fire local call centre.

The union movement have invited concerned employees to attend a meeting tonight at 8.15pm at the offices of Unison on Clarendon Street. This meeting follows on from a heavily attended gathering in the same location last weekend. Notification of the suspension of a number of workers at Firstsource came to light at the end of last week.

The suspensions are said to be in connection to allegations that sales in relation to a contract at the centre operated on behalf of Sky have been processed incorrectly.

Angered employees have claimed that the suspensions were incorrectly processed and at that stage trade union officials became involved.

To date Firstsource have declined to comment officially stating they will not be in a position to do until an investigation into the alleged incident has been completed.

However, the Journal now understands the compnay are now disputing the amount of people that have actually been suspended.

One source told the Journal: “It is true that there is an investigation into potential irregularities on people’s accounts. This was discovered after listening to calls where customers received upgrades they hadn’t asked for.

“The investigation is widespread and still ongoing. There have been a number of people suspended on full pay and without prejudice. The investigation is expected to end later this week or early next week.”

The Journal also believes that Firstsource will not make any official comment on the situation until the investigation is completed.

It has been reported that as many as 138 people had been suspended from the call centre. But it is now understood that management sources inside Firstsource are claiming that the actual figure is less than a third of that figure.

When queried on this point the sources told the Journal that: “Until the investigation is completed it would be unfair to comment. The company want this to be a fair and transparent process because it will be open to external and internal scrutiny when it is completed. It is a top to bottom review of the overall management and governance of the situation. It is about securing jobs and getting people back to work.”

The Journal also asked if the allegations had impacted in anyway on data protection issues. This was also denied by the sources we spoke to. And, the Journal also directed allegations that the people currently under suspension ‘had ordered’ call advisers to add sales onto Sky accounts. Again, this was denied.

One source said: “It has not impacted on customers data. There has been no data loss. There is nothing in this for us a company, we make nothing from it. We need to know if people are not making bonuses from sales they have not made.”

The sources also denied suggestions that improper procedure had been followed during the suspension of workers at the centre. Instead the sources claimed that Human Resource policy in relation to that point was followed correctly. They also refuted suggestions that meetings in relation to the investigation had been postponed or even cancelled which has lead to increase in the stress experienced by the affected workers. The sources also maintained that they had not attempted to deny affected workers representation in any such meeting. The plant operates a policy of non union recognition.

Yesterday, executives at Sky confirmed they are in discussions with Firstsource over the controversy.

Sky maintained the discussions are focused on “allegations of incorrect processing of details of sales by some agents.”

In a statement a Sky spokesperson said: “We are currently in discussions with our partner Firstsource regarding allegations of the incorrect processing of some sales by a minority of agents although there is no evidence at this time to suggest that customers have been adversely impacted. We take all such allegations very seriously whenever customer data is involved and appropriate investigations are being undertaken.”

Meanwhile, a post on the Facebook page of Derry Trades Council said: “We invite all of the affected workers and any other worker from Firstsource to attend a meeting on Wednesday, January 7 at 8.15pm in the Unison building on Clarendon Street. We will give advice and make preparation and advise on what facilities are available in support of the workers.”