Northern Ireland

Tayto and Moy Park fined over low wages

Pound notes Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Unite workers' union says Northern Ireland companies are disproportionately represented on the list

Food producers Tayto, Wilson's Country and Moy Park are among eight Northern Ireland companies fined for failing to pay workers the minimum wage.

Moy Park failed to pay £33,500 to 338 workers, Wilson's Country failed to pay £24,560.53 to 63 workers and Tayto failed to pay £2,200 to 50 workers, says the list.

Published by the government, it features 179 UK firms in total.

They are being forced to pay £1.3m in back-pay and fines for underpayment.

Moy Park, which is based in Craigavon, said it had apologised for the "isolated example," reimbursed those affected and took steps to ensure it did not happen again.

Tayto said it was made aware of a "potential small inadvertent breach" and made sure the amount was paid to staff within the month.

Wilson's Country Potatoes described the breach as "innocent and unintended" and said it had made "full restitution to staff".

"We value our people highly and would never knowingly underpay anyone," they added.

Other Northern Ireland companies on the list are:

  • QCS Contract Cleaning Ltd, Belfast, failed to pay £2,952.19 to 237 workers
  • Extra Care for Elderly People Ltd, Antrim and Newtownabbey, failed to pay £1,775.79 to 6 workers
  • Ritcin Ltd, trading as Starbucks, Belfast, failed to pay £1,592.79 to 79 workers
  • Europa Foods Distribution Limited, Causeway Coast and Glens, failed to pay £976.55 to 2 workers
  • D K Leisure Ltd, trading as Bushtown Hotel, Causeway Coast and Glens, failed to pay £448.13 to 2 workers

D K Leisure Ltd told BBC News NI it had been a genuine error which was rectified when it was brought to their attention.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said there were no excuses for short-changing workers.

"This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught - not only are they forced to pay back every penny but they are also fined up to 200% of wages owed," he said.

"Today's naming round serves as a sharp reminder to employers to get their house in order ahead of minimum wage rate rises on 1 April."

The workers' union Unite called on the companies listed to address the issue by committing to become fully-accredited living wage employers.

"Unfortunately Northern Ireland appears to be disproportionately represented," said Unite's Sean McKeever.