A PROMINENT commentator and café owner has been criticized by Unite the Union over a dispute with former employees over unpaid wages.
usinesswoman Barbara Whearty owns Cafe Cuan in central Belfast and regularly appears on BBC Radio Ulster.
She is currently involved in a dispute with several former employees over thousands of pounds of supposedly unpaid wages.
Despite the battle, Ms. Whearty was able to expand her business by opening Arden’s “gastro-café” in Whitehead, Co Antrim.
Her husband John Paul Whearty works next to her.
After the announcement of the expansion, a Unite the Union spokesman said, “Unite supports our members who were employed by Cuan Catering Limited to recover their debts.
The expansion pots with former employees who have been wanting to pay for months.
“The dispute can be quickly resolved by the company with a full and final settlement of all employees who owe money.”
Ms. Whearty said she wanted to resolve the situation.
“We never contested the money owed. We were in contact with our former colleagues and worked tirelessly to make up for the shortfall when Covid struck, ‘she added.
“In the absence of financial support from Stormont or Westminster and the dramatic decline in our business from pre-Covid levels, we were faced with the very real prospect of closing and making our team of eight redundant and unable to meet meet our obligations to former colleagues.
“Instead, thanks to the kindness of our family, we were able to borrow a small amount to secure our business and the jobs of our enlightened team through expansion.
“At a time when so many jobs in the hospitality industry have been lost, we hope Unite will work with us to resolve this issue through the formal processes expected from a union.
“I sincerely apologize for not being able to fix this in time.”