Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Norbrook staff dispute management pay claims

Claims of compulsory unpaid overtime made by some employees of Newry-based pharmaceutical company, Norbrook Laboratories, appear to contradict management promises that staff will not lose out financially by the firm’s two-day closure earlier this month, in response to the severe winter storm dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’.

Employees claim to have been told that, in order to receive their full wage entitlement for the week affected by the closure, they must work unpaid overtime or sacrifice holiday entitlement.

Responding to the claims, last week Norbrook management issued a statement to the Newry Reporter, which said staff would be paid for “the full working week” affected by the closure, but made no reference to employees having to work back those hours through unpaid overtime or losing days off in lieu.

The company has been accused of misleading its workers, some of whom have said they cannot afford to lose the two day’s pay and so must work up the hours with unpaid overtime.

The Examiner asked Norbrook management to specifically clarify the claims being made by some of its employees but in response, received the same statement issued last week, which did not directly address the request.

The statement read: “In line with good health and safety practice, we took the decision to close our facilities during the worst of the weather. We have communicated to employees that our intention is to pay them for the full working week, and we have been working to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our customers around the world.  The company’s policy is to engage directly with its employees about matters relating to our business and we do this on an ongoing basis.”

Republican group Saoradh says it has been contacted by angry workers and has vowed to “fully support the employees in their struggle”.