Fórsa has warned senior management that it will take action unless there is immediate engagement with the union on discriminatory treatment of Traveller workers at the Leitrim Development Company. Fórsa official Richy Carrothers said Fórsa would consider flash picketing, lobbying of funders and board members, and parliamentary questions if management refused to talk.
The union has identified breaches of the statutory minimum wage, discriminatory work practices, and failure to engage with staff representatives for collective bargaining purposes.
Richy said the union discovered late last year that the company had been previously paying Traveller workers just €5 per hour, significantly less than the statutory minimum wage. “When they were challenged about this, management raised the hourly rate but cut the hours of affected staff,” he said.
Richy said the employer subsequently paid some arrears. The union has since discovered serious issues of concern about the treatment of Traveller workers in the development company.
“These are staff who were employed to advance the work and support for Travellers across Leitrim, and who have been treated in the most shameful way by their employer,” he said.
“Last November management confirmed that these same workers were the only staff on the statutory minimum wage. We have also raised concerns about segregation and exclusion of Traveller workers at the company,” he said.
It is illegal to pay workers less than the national minimum wage and employment equality legislation also outlaws discrimination on the basis of membership of the Traveller community.
In a letter to the company’s CE last week, Richy said Fórsa was aware that the employer had sought to renegotiate terms and conditions with individual union members against their will.
Richy said it had become clear the company has decided to completely disengage with the union. He said Fórsa would engage in a series of actions including flash picketing, lobbying of board meetings, parliamentary questions and lobbying of funders to withhold funding, if there is no response to the union’s requests for engagement this week.
Yesterday it was reported that the Leitrim Development company has said it will meet with Fórsa representatives to resolve any remaining issues with its workers.
The company is funded mainly through public sector agencies and received over €3.2 million in public money in 2016.