A woman who was due to start work with Moy Park has claimed she was told to leave because she insisted on reading her contract before signing it.
And Christina Loughran says that afterwards she had to walk for over an hour and 20 minutes down country roads in the dark and fog to get to Dungannon bus station, where she caught a bus back to Portadown.
The incident, which she describes as “appalling”, took place last Thursday morning when the Portadown woman arrived at the Diamond Recruitment office (which recruits staff for Moy Park) just after 5.30am, in preparation for work at the factory’s Dungannon plant.
She said, “We were given clock cards and a contract of employment. The man in charge kept pointing to various places for us to sign our names.
“I had noticed several issues of concern so I said I wanted to read the contract before signing and get clarification. I was told ‘sign now or leave now’ on four occasions.”
Christina, who had attended the previous week’s registration and induction sessions, said the aspects she was concerned about included the hourly rate of pay, holiday entitlement and overtime.
She added, “I didn’t want to sign my name to a legally binding document before reading it because after the event you have no redress on any point of concern.
“I have since researched some of the details I saw on the contract which is known as the Swedish Derogation model. It is widespread within companies and recruitment agencies but benefits them rather than the employee.
“The whole experience cost me time and money but I’ve learnt a valuable lesson. Trust your own judgement and instinct. Do not sign anything until you read it first.”
Christina, who in the past has worked as a retail administrative manager, added, “Some companies think because you are unemployed you are uneducated. But with knowledge comes responsibility and I would be doing my community a disservice if I didn’t let people know what was going on.”
An active community volunteer, Christina presently sits on the committees of Bannside Development Centre and North West Portadown Neighbourhood Renewal.
She has thanked staff at the Jobs and Benefits Office and Reed in Partnership for their help since the incident.
Moy Park were contacted for a comment but directed the Times to Diamond Recruitment Group. A spokesperson for the group said, “Unfortunately our business cannot comment on individual cases but I would like to confirm that all of our employees throughout the business are paid at least the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay as per legislative requirements.
“Diamond Recruitment Group takes the well-being of not only our current employees but potential employees extremely seriously.”