Dozens of workers at Firstsource in Derry flocked to enlist the help of trade unions at a specially arranged meeting in the city on Saturday.
One worker has been dismissed and a number of others suspended on a level previously unheard of, said Derry Trades Council leader, Liam Gallagher.
Some of the workers told how they learned from colleagues that they had been suspended, before they were notified by the company. They said ‘suspended’ was marked against their names on the firm’s schedule which outlines details like hours of work, times of tea breaks, leave etc.
One woman said she was angry and embarrassed, and rang the company to ask why she was listed on the schedule as ‘suspended’ when nobody from Firstsource had been in touch with her.
Amanda Boyle said she was told that the suspension would not officially begin until she was formally told of the move by Firstsource.
She was then invited to go to work an hour earlier on Monday, so she will not have to walk past her colleagues on the way to and from her meeting with senior staff.
It was not clear how many people had been suspended, and the trade unionists said they would begin gathering more information. Some of the Firstsource staff at the meeting hosted by Mr Gallagher were there to show support for colleagues and were not suspended themselves.Firstsource told the ‘Journal’ that “a number of policies and procedures may have been breached”.
A spokesperson also said that the company had launched an investigation and that it hoped to conclude this quickly.
The workers involved have been invited to meetings with Firstsource representatives and Mr Gallagher said trade union officials would accept any offer to accompany the workers.
The ‘Journal’ was invited to Saturday’s meeting, held at union premises on Clarendon Street.
Around 50 people queued as Mr Gallagher started the meeting. Union activist, Eamon McCann said all unions in the city, not just those that Firstsource staff might join, must get behind the workforce.
Councillors Martin Reilly and Brian Tierney were also in attendance.