The Executive Office has paid out a “substantial” six figure sum to nine former staff members at Derry’s now wound up regeneration company Ilex in a settlement, trade union NIPSA has said.
NIPSA said the agreement came after almost three years of protracted negotiations and legal action against The Executive Office (formerly Office of the First and Deputy First Minister) and the Strategic Investment Board.
NIPSA had taken action on behalf of four of the staff who were members of the union, while five others are also understood have received pay outs in what has been described as one of the largest employment law settlements of its kind in the north.
The Executive Office said the claims were settled without an admission of liability.
Ilex was wound up in March 2016 after 13 years of operation, with the loss of 18 jobs after staff were not transferred when responsibility for its projects transferred back to OFMDFM.
Alison Millar, NIPSA General Secretary, said: “When the staff of Ilex were advised in October 2015 that the organisation was to close by the end of the financial year, and they would lose their jobs, it was a huge shock to them.
“This came following a review of Ilex, during which its Board had been assured that there would be no surprises when the review report was published.
“At the time, NIPSA argued vehemently that, as some of the work of Ilex was being transferred to The Executive Office and the Strategic Investment Board, its staff should also transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employees Regulations (TUPE).
“This was rejected out of hand, the staff lost their jobs and NIPSA was forced into lodging Industrial Tribunal proceedings for our members.”
Tony McMullan the NIPSA Official who represented the members throughout claimed: “Our members who worked in Ilex were treated disgracefully.
“The staff have everything to be proud of in the development of Ebrington and the Fort George site. The iconic Peace Bridge is there for all to see and a unique testament to the work, imagination, commitment and dedication of the staff concerned.
“This substantial settlement is a strong indication that the staff and NIPSA were fully justified in lodging tribunal applications.”
A spokesperson for The Executive Office said: “Claims from nine former staff of Ilex Urban Regeneration Company were settled without admission of liability.”
The Strategic Investment Board have declined to comment.