14 December 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

    BY STEPHANIE LORD

Merchant Bravery crew get €122,971

The 19 Russian and Latvian crew members of the Merchant Bravery vessel, which operates on the Irish Sea, received back pay worth €122,971 this weekend. It had emerged after the International Transport Federation and SIPTU became involved that they were only being paid €2 per hour. The average payout to each of the Eastern European workers was just over €5,000.
Norfolk Line, the company that chartered the vessel, met with ITF inspector Ken Fleming last week and paid out €50,000 to four Russian crew members. He had discovered that crew members were told upon hiring that their pay would be lodged into accounts back home. They later discovered that “little or nothing” was being paid into these accounts. Mr. Fleming went on to say that he would be investigating other vessels in an effort to “clean up” the Irish Sea.

Fake safety certificates given to Polish workers in Kilkenny

It emerged this week that 12 fake safety certs were given to Polish builders working for Balcon Developments, a Kilkenny-based construction firm. The company also have a site in Portlaoise which was recently closed by the Health and Safety Authority for breaching safety standards. The letters given to the Polish workers said that they had completed the FÁS Safe Pass course and contained the forged signature of Billy Moran, a qualified Safe Pass tester in Kilkenny. It later transpired that Moran’s records showed that none of the workers in possession of these letters had taken part in a course with him.
This development comes only months after it became apparent that fake safety certs were being traded on the black market for just €50 each. A FÁS spokesperson labelled this a “callous disregard for life” and said it was “amazing that people’s lives are put at risk in order to avoid paying €100 for a one-day course”.
Legislation requires all workers on construction sites in the 26 Counties to undergo a one-day safety training session accredited by FÁS. Due to the delays in issuing Safe Pass Cards, the trainers issue letters of accreditation so people can work on sites while waiting for their cards. A director of Balcon Developments, Martin Dunne, denied that the company had issued the forgeries and said that a “wife of one of the Polish workers” was responsible.


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