Outspoken economist Tom O’Connor has called on the Government to crack down on rogue employers to protect workers.
Mr O’Connor, whose brother is among the former Target Express workers who staged a sit-in at the Cork depot, made his comments after provisional liquidators met the collapsed firm’s workers around the country.
“There needs to be far greater enforcement of company law from the new director of corporate enforcement,” he said.
“And there needs to be far more vigilance from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with inspectors going in to companies to inspect the books, and to ensure companies are solvent and that workers are not left out in the cold.”
He said the Government had failed to learn the lessons from the Vita Cortex dispute earlier this year, where workers caught in a complex financial web of related companies staged a five-month sit-in for redundancy.
“It is appalling the way people are using companies,” Mr O’Connor said.
“In the Target Express case, four companies were set up and no-one could see if this company [College Freight trading as Target Express] had money or not. It’s becoming a pattern.”
He accused the firm’s owner, Seamus McBrien, of trying to demonise Revenue, and of “spinning” by claiming his firm was solvent.
“It has always been our view that this was not an accurate reflection of the facts,” he said.
“We believed from the outset that Mr McBrien was spinning. That view has been vindicated now that he has gone in to liquidation.”
He suggested that far greater Target liabilities will emerge over the coming days.
Meanwhile, Workers’ Party Cllr Ted Tynan, has called on the Government to introduce a warning system that will trigger immediate action when companies become seriously delinquent in their payments to Revenue.
“In many cases, and certainly in the most recent case of Target Express, workers only know that there is a problem in relation to their bosses’ compliance with taxation law when they receive their P45s or arrive at the factory gates and find them shut,” he said.
“This is completely unacceptable”, he said.
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