GREENCORE could be forced to pay out more than €1m to some of its workers in the UK after a dispute over pay and holidays.
The UK trade union Unite was claiming victory last night after an employment tribunal apparently found against Greencore in a case it took on behalf of some 400 employees at the Hull-based plant of the ready meals maker.
Unite said the dispute stemmed from an agreement in 2010 when the workers agreed to "temporarily suspend premium pay rates and enhanced holiday pay rates from June 2010 to October 2011 in order to help the company during difficult trading conditions".
However Unite claimed Greencore then "refused to revert back to the workers' original terms of employment after the deadline had passed".
The union claims Greencore will now have to pay about £1.2m (€1.49m) to the affected workers.
A spokesman for the Irish company however played down what it described as "an ongoing dispute with the union regarding premium rates".
"[We] acknowledge the recent decision in the tribunal case in this matter. However, it is very important to note that the case has not concluded and, in particular, no specific claim has been agreed or stipulated by the tribunal.
"Further tribunal meetings are scheduled to take place over the next few months to bring the case to conclusion. Until that time, it is far too premature to discuss the Union claims," he added.
Nevertheless, Unite national officer Jennie Formby said the decision was "great news".
"Many of these workers had to survive on poverty wages since management changed the terms," she added.
The Irish company, which is the biggest supplier of sandwiches to the UK market, said it was "focused on securing the long-term sustainability of the site and employment for the area".
Shares in the company climbed marginally yesterday to 89.5 pence in London. It is up a little under 50pc in the last year.