The Irish arm of a Russian aircraft leasing firm facing a series of pay and unfair dismissal claims says its staff refused to be paid in roubles after it was hit by sanctions last year.
At the Workplace Relations Commission today, Avia Capital Leasing Ltd secured adjournments in two employment rights cases taken by former staff, arguing it was not properly on notice.
The adjournment will also allow an Irish legal professional to continue to look for a waiver from the sanctions regime to represent them.
A senior finance manager, Alexandra Skavronskaja, and her colleague, Sofija Krascuka, have both alleged breaches of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977; the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 and the Payment of Wages Act 1991 against the company – with Ms Skavronskaja further alleging a breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act 2004 over her holiday entitlements.
The company, a subsidiary of the second-largest bank in Russia, the state-owned VTB, said today it has no access to funds lodged with its parent’s German division, VTB Bank (Europe) SE.
“The issue is pretty simple – we don’t have bank accounts which aren’t frozen in Europe,” the firm’s Moscow-based lawyer, Stanislav Dobshevich, said in a submission to a remote hearing.
In complaint forms submitted to the WRC, opened at separate hearings today, both complainants alleged they got their pay for March 2022 late and were not paid at all for April that year.
“Management claimed [the] company couldn’t complete payments due to blocked bank accounts; however, bank representatives didn’t confirm this information,” they said in their complaints.
They each said they were told there would be no redundancy payments as the company intended to continue its operations – but were asked to sign an “employment termination agreement” on 14 April that year.
“Everyone from [the] team didn’t agree to sign,” the workers stated in their complaint forms.
The complainants further allege the firm told them in an email: “The presence of signed agreement[s] will strengthen the company’s position in negotiations with banks to fulfil obligations.”
Notices of termination came on April 24th 2022, effective April 26th, the complainants said — Ms Skavronskaja stating that this was the “next business day” for the firm.