Underpaid Gama workers agree compensation deal

Turkish workers at Gama construction will be paid €8,000 euro for every year of service over alleged underpayments of overtime, it emerged tonight.

Under a deal brokered at the Labour Court ending a seven-week-old dispute workers will receive a lump sum of at least €2,000 euro and a bonus when contracts run out.

Noel Dowling, SIPTU’s national industrial secretary, said the employees, who also claimed intimidation and harassment, had accepted pragmatism over justice by agreeing the deal.

“They fought for justice but were obliged to settle for pragmatism,” he said.

“But the state – despite all the labour legislation we have – could not vindicate their right to the outstanding monies they earned for working up to 80 hours a week.”

The workers had been on strike for the last seven weeks in a dispute over pay and overtime.

They had also alleged harassment and intimidation and feared going to work would leave them open to further abuse.

It is understood hundreds of Turkish workers have already left Ireland and returned to their homeland.

The minimum payment will be €2,000 and each worker will be awarded an ex gratia payment of one month’s salary on completion of their contracts in Ireland.

The average worker with 17 months service could pocket around €13,000 under the agreement.

Mr Dowling said if the workers had wanted real justice they would have had to wait up to 18 months or more while individual claims were processed in the courts.

SIPTU, the country’s largest union, called for improved legislation to guarantee the rights of migrant workers arriving on Ireland’s shores.

“In the case of Gama, the state has failed the workers,” Mr Dowling said.

“The Government must accept that to have employment legislation without a means of enforcement is a deception on an even grander scale than witnessed in relation to the current dispute.

“A good start would be to immediately increase the number of labour inspectors to at least 76. Otherwise Ireland will become synonymous with a banana republic.”

Mr Dowling called on the Government to review the role played by professional advisors to companies such as Gama.

And the SIPTU official paid tribute to Socialist TD Joe Higgins and his colleagues who highlighted the issue.

He also commended the Labour Relations Commission, the Labour Court and those who supported the Turkish workers out of a “sense of justice and shame on their country”.

Most Read in Ireland