Around 50 workers from Firstsource attended a Derry Trades Council meeting last night as the controversy surrounding the suspension of employees enters a sixth day.
Employees were given a chance to address the meeting which was attended by local trade unionists and elected representatives.
Liam Gallagher, secretary of the Derry Trades Council, said the full weight of the trade union organisations in the city were behind the workers affected.
While Firstsource have not, to date. provided figures for the total amount of people suspended one worker at last night’s meeting said a company representative had told her she wasn’t the only one affected and that there were “at least 90.”
Other workers expressed fears about signing off on paperwork which had been asked of them over the past two to three days.
Addressing the meeting, one of those currently not suspended said:
“We’re being asked by managers to sign off on sales and things and everyone’s terrified to do that now in case it results in more of us being told we’re suspended. There’s a real fear among workers.”
Another woman who is among those workers suspended said: “All we did was what we were told. We were told that if we didn’t do that we would be taken to HR. So we did. Then of course we were taken to HR anyway, and now we find ourselves suspended. It’s terrible. All of us are trying to earn money to pay our bills and raise our families.”
When queried, company sources told the Journal: “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.”
Speaking at the meeting, Derry Trades Council Secretary Liam Gallagher said:
“Lessons must be learnt from the situation at Firstsource in terms of the current suspensions hanging over workers and the way in which the situation has been handled by the company.”
“We believe that there was a systemic failure in the way in which the product in question was being sold in respect of the terms of agreement with the client - and that workers were scapegoated. We will not abandon these workers and will work to establish their rights and organise resources to defend any worker who might be disciplined arising from the current suspensions. We would also urge Firstsource to end its anti-trade union position and recognise trade unions in the form of a collective agreement in line with the good industrial relations which is reasonably expected of a company this size in 2015.”