Trispace catering staff seek better working conditions

Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque

Catering staff at DCU sent a letter with their workplace grievances to DCU’s governing authority members. 

Trispace is in charge of the catering services in DCU. DCU’s website states they are “a company wholly owned by DCU.”

The College View was given access to the letter by a Trispace worker who wished to remain anonymous. 

“Most Trispace workers are employed on part-time contracts. But even full-time employees are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. [The] vast majority of them are paid minimum wage,” it said.

The anonymous worker said that some of the staff have been working with Trispace for over a decade and are paid minimum wage.

The letter also detailed a number of issues with Trispace’s rostering system, which was described as “humiliating”. 

“Rosters are unpredictable and subject to change daily. Depending on company needs, hours are cut, sometimes drastically to just a few hours a week, and in other months, employees are expected to work 15 or even 17 hours a day,” it said.

A Labour Court hearing was held on November 6th, however the anonymous worker said the judge referred the case back to the Workplace Relations Commission. This was because conciliation had already started.

Trispace responded to the worker’s letter with an offer to catering assistants. The company proposed a new starting rate of €10.10 an hour compared to the previous rate of €9.80.

In addition, this pay would progressively increase by 20c for every additional year’s work – up to ten years. Thus, workers who have been with the company for 10 or more years would be paid €12.10 an hour. 

It is worth noting that the minimum wage was set to increase to €10.10, but was delayed by the government due to the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Trispace also offered additional annual leave days for staff depending on how long they’ve worked for the company.

“If a staff member wishes to accept the offer, the terms will be implemented in November’s payroll and will be backdated to 1 August 2019,” Trispace said in their response. “Please note, if the Labour Court further enhance the offer outlined above, any staff member who has accepted the current proposal will receive the enhanced offer and will not be at a loss.”

“SIPTU [Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union] doesn’t recognise this offer,” the anonymous worker said. However, they added that some staff have accepted the offer.

“They think you’re just a body behind a counter,” another anonymous Trispace worker told The College View.

A DCU spokesperson said: “Trispace Catering is currently engaged in pay negotiations with SIPTU on behalf of its members, under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. No further comment will be made as these negotiations are ongoing.” 

Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque

Image Credit: DCU Rooms