Belfast Telegraph

Courier firm denies poppy ban claim

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

A worker has claimed that his manager has prevented him and other staff from wearing a Remembrance poppy.

The man, who works for UK courier company DX Network Services, based at Belfast International Airport, told the Belfast Telegraph that "it was time to take a stand" over the issue.

The company vigorously denies any ban on the symbol of Remembrance.

The worker insisted there was a prohibition on wearing the poppy.

"We have never been allowed to wear a poppy at work and I want to know why," said the man, who asked not to be named.

"We have no wish to offend anyone and can't understand this. Is this just a local policy or company policy as DX is a previous winner of a Queen's award for innovation, yet this local decision seems to give the two fingers up to this."

He added that some workers were asked to remove their poppy by management last week, leaving other workers unwilling to attempt to wear one as a result and unhappy with the situation.

"This has gone on for years and we have been told on occasions that if we wanted to wear the poppy, we could find somewhere else to wear it."

However, a spokeswoman for DX stressed that its guidelines provided to management "never included a ban on the wearing of red Remembrance poppies, and DX would certainly never dismiss an employee for this activity".

She said that DX's Belfast operation adheres to the Code of Practice for Fair Employment set out by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and had done so for years.

The company does not have an official policy relating to how employees can commemorate Armistice Day, and that it was "entirely down to individual employees if they wish to express their support for this day or not".

A spokesman for the Equality Commission said that "the wearing of poppies, in a respectful manner and within the appropriate period, should not be something which would cause offence".

He said: "It is for employers to develop their own policies to promote a good and harmonious working environment, with such policies being based on what is reasonable, fair and appropriate in their particular circumstances."

The spokesman said that while the commission could not comment on individual cases, it recognises the sensitivity surrounding the use of emblems and symbols within Northern Ireland and offers guidance on these issues based on the relevant legislation.

He added: "We would encourage anyone who feels they may have been discriminated against to contact the Equality Commission for free advice on 028 9050 0600."

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