Poultry plant workers to get compensation in overtime pay row

Recruiting firm agrees to pay 57 workers at Cork plant sums up to €3,000 each

Workers at a poultry plant in Co Cork are to receive compensation from a recruiting firm to resolve a row over overtime pay – with orders made for close to €3,000 for some of them.

A total of 57 workers at the plant took claims under the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 against AA Euro Recruitment Ireland Ltd of Ballyfowloo, Cashel, Co Tipperary.

The complainants, who include workers from Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Czechia employed by the agency to work for its client, maintained they “did not receive the same basic working and employment conditions to which a comparable worker would be entitled”.

Eight test cases went forward for adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission. Half of the test cases were chosen by the employer, with the other half chosen by their trade union, the Cork Operative Butchers branch of the Independent Workers’ Union.

The recruitment firm, represented at hearing by HR consultant David O’Reilly, maintained the claims were “unfounded” and were being used as “leverage for union recognition”.

Mr O’Reilly said “legacy issues” on direct employment had been resolved in favour of the workers in December 2019, as had legacy issues on overtime.

AA Euro Recruitment’s chief executive, Larry Ryan, “categorically denied any mistreatment of the workers “, adjudicating officer Patsy Doyle noted in her decision.

He said the workers were paid in euro and denied “any irregular or illegal deductions”.

Mr Ryan added that his company “did not recognise the trade union, IWU”.

In her decision, adjudicating officer Patsy Doyle wrote that following the first two days of hearing, the WRC had facilitated talks between the parties and they had arrived at a “mutually agreed resolution for all associated complainants”.

The parties asked the WRC to make orders in respect of the test cases and seven of these were published this morning.

It was acknowledged that the overtime arrangements had breached the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012. Compensation orders in the seven cases ranged from €449 to €2,955.74.