Services giant Noonan has branded a 32c pay hike for workers as 'out of kilter'

The multimillion-euro company brought five employees before the Labour Court.

By Conor McMahon Reporter, Fora

THE LABOUR COURT agreed that outsourced services giant Noonan “unlawfully” deducted 32c from a group of workers’ hourly pay rate when they covered night shifts.

Swords-based Noonan, which was bought last year by a South African group for €175 million, submitted a series of appeals to the Labour Court in a bid to overturn a Workplace Relations Commission decision that it had failed to apply an increase to five employees’ hourly pay rate.

The workers – who were employed as cleaners – each claimed they had suffered an “unlawful deduction” from their wages after the company failed to apply an increase to their hourly salary in line with an employment regulation order (ERO) introduced in October 2015.

The orders are used to set the minimum rates of pay and conditions for workers in a specific sector. Each of the complainants wound up working for Noonan after their previous employer was acquired by the services group.

They were all paid an hourly rate of €12.68 when they worked nights and said they were owed 32c more after an ERO came into force on 1 October 2015.

Trade union Siptu, which represented the security personnel, told the Labour Court that the night shift rate was not a fixed rate and was “linked to the basic rate of pay and amounts to 133.4% of the same”, meaning they should have received €13 an hour.

“Failure to pay the increase amounted to an illegal deduction,” the court heard.

‘Out of kilter’

Noonan, represented by business advisory Management Support Services, described the rate proposed by the complainants as “out of kilter with the industry norm”.

It said it believed the ERO rate applied to staff on the basic pay rate and believed the complainants were not on a pay scale. It said it wasn’t aware of a collective agreement that confirmed the rate would automatically rise with the ERO.

The Labour Court sided with the complainants. It upheld the decision of the Workplace Relations Commission adjudication officer and found the 32c increase was “properly payable” to the five workers.

With a presence in numerous stores, private offices and government buildings across Ireland and the UK, Noonan provides outsourced services in areas such as cleaning, facilities management and security.

It counts off-price retailer TK Maxx and shopping centre Liffey Valley as some of its customers. It also provides security for Penneys-Primark’s corporate headquarters in Dublin and the clothes chain’s Northern Ireland stores.

According to its most recently filed accounts, Noonan booked sales of €328 million for the financial year that ended 31 December 2016 and reported an operating profit of €12.4 million, up €900,000 on the 2015 figure.

According to the accounts, the average number of employees on Noonan’s books was 7,313 last year. They were paid an average of €18,450 in wages and salaries.

Note: This article was updated to include additional information about the workers.

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