A former operations manager for security company G4S said he was refused a severance arrangement and demoted to working nights as a security guard after the company lost a lucrative contract guarding Amazon data centres two years ago and made his job redundant.
“Instead of taking meetings with Store Street, now I’m moving on crack dealers from the IFSC,” he said of his last role in the company before quitting in May 2021.
At a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing on Wednesday, Richard Harford said he also lost a €6,000-a-year bonus and his work van after his former employer, G4S Secure Solutions (Ire) Limited, lost the contract in March 2021 and made his role redundant – but kept him in employment and transferred him to another site.
He has lodged complaints under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 and the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977, alleging constructive dismissal, though he was told the tribunal could only consider one complaint or the other.
Mr Harford is also complaining under the Payment of Wages Act for the alleged non-payment of a quarter of his yearly bonus amounting to €1,500, but said he was withdrawing a further claim for holiday entitlements as it had been resolved.
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“The redundancy situation was legitimate, but from the point of view of the employee it was a Trojan horse that saw his position change from operations manager to a lesser status. Our member’s contention is that it was essentially a security guard role,” said Mr Harford’s trade union representative, Vivian Cullen of Siptu.
Mr Cullen said Mr Harford was entitled to seek statutory redundancy on foot of lesser terms and conditions being imposed.
He said the alternative was that Mr Harford had been constructively dismissed on foot of a “lack of communication” from his former employer when he looked for a new employment contract reflecting his acquired terms and conditions and making an allowance for the “long and unsociable hours he worked”.
G4S made no appearance to defend the claim at hearing on Wednesday.
Mr Harford, who had worked for G4S for 11 years at the time of his resignation, said in his evidence that the Amazon contract had been “teetering” and he had been brought in as operations manager to “prop things up” – making weekly visits to every data centre guard team for six months before it ended.
“Listen, they lost a lot of money but that’s not my fault – I’m an individual,” Mr Harford said.
He said that after losing the contract, the company told him he would be managing a team of three guards on the night shift at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin.
“I went in and I was a security officer. Instead of taking meetings with Store Street ... I’m moving on crack dealers from the IFSC,” he said.
He said his colleagues on the shift were “embarrassed to be asking me to go out” as they regarded him as their “boss”.
Mr Cullen said Mr Harford had found work again within a month of losing the job, on a higher salary of around €44,000 a year.
However, he said that when the performance bonus previously paid by G4S was taken into account, it amounted to an ongoing loss of around €2,000 annually.
Adjudicating officer Jim Dolan said
would not be surprised if the firm lodged an appeal to the Labour Court.
“It actually surprises me that G4S aren’t here,” he continued.