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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Factory investigate staff walkout
Foyle Meats factory
Polish staff at Foyle Meat in Londonderry staged a walkout
A meat processing factory in Londonderry is to hold an investigation after more than 30 Polish workers at the plant staged a walkout.

Polish staff at Foyle Meats said they took the action after being subjected to sectarian abuse by other workers.

The Poles had asked for a day off to watch the Pope's funeral on television.

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said Polish staff decided to leave on Friday after being insulted by some of their colleagues.

However, he claimed the abuse had started before that.

"It was not a nice situation because Protestant people started to laugh at Catholics and the Pope," he said.

Polish workers account for 95 of the 280 strong workforce at the factory.

A spokesman for Foyle Meats said he had not heard about any sectarian name calling until Friday.

Inquiry

He would not comment on the incident, but confirmed an investigation into what had happened would take place on Monday.

He said appropriate measures, including possible disciplinary action, would be taken after that.

He also said Polish workers at the plant had been offered some "quiet time" because of the Pope's funeral, but said it would not have been possible to let more than 90 people leave the factory.

In a statement, Foyle Meats said it was "committed to carrying out a full and thorough investigation into the incident".

"Without prejudice to this investigation, both Foyle Meats and the ATGWU would condemn any form of harassment in the workplace," said a spokesman.

"Foyle Meats, with the help of the ATGWU will review the existing harassment policy with a view to continuing to promote a harmonious working environment which recognises and respects cultural differences."

'Nervous'

Katrina Kordula of the Polish Welfare Association has taken up the case for the workers. She said they were fearful they might face disciplinary action.

"Everyone is nervous about what is going to happen when they go into the factory," she said.

"They are nervous about the fact that some of them walked out and that they may actually lose their jobs."

The Polish Welfare Association met with members of the Derry Trades Council over the weekend to discuss the problems.

Kenny McAdams of the council said he had urged the workers to join a trade union.

"We have to understand that it is not all workers who are involved in this, but we have to get it across to the management and to workers that this is no longer tolerated," he said.

"Every worker should have the right to go into work and not be subject to harassment."




SEE ALSO:
Pope's funeral shown in churches
08 Apr 05 |  Northern Ireland



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