Gama workers call on regulator to revoke licence

PROTESTING Turkish workers at Gama yesterday called for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) to withdraw the firm’s electricity generation licence until workers are fully paid.

The Turkish Workers Action Group (TWAG) also called on the ESB not to buy any energy from Tynagh Energy, the Gama- controlled firm building a power station in Galway.

Acting on behalf of TWAG, Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins yesterday wrote to the ESB and the CER informing them of several unresolved issues as up to 300 Gama workers protested underpayments.

“As is now common knowledge, Gama forced its employees to work over 80 hours per week and at incredibly low wages, dormitory accommodation, food and €2.20 per hour.

“So far the workers have recovered a portion of their wages hidden in Finansbank Holland. But this only accounts for a 48-hour week at trade union rates of pay. There is outstanding the massive overtime that Gama is adamantly refusing to pay,” he said.

In addition, Mr Higgins raised the plight of fixed-rate workers who are paid even less than their colleagues and questioned the morality of Irish State bodies and companies profiting from migrant abuse.

“Apart from the moral issues involved here with breach of workers’ rights and gross exploitation of labour, there are also serious commercial questions “If allowed to benefit from such intense exploitation, Tynagh Energy would have a massive unfair competitive edge over other generators and suppliers in the Irish market,” he said.

SIPTU yesterday called on Gama to prove they were willing to do a deal after workers in Dublin last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

The call came after Gama indicated it was willing to negotiate and made preliminary payments to fixed-term workers last Friday.

“We are anxious we get down to negotiations as soon as possible and ensure there is a solid foundation for that, but the company are going to have to show and prove to us this is the case,” said SIPTU Construction branch secretary Eric Fleming.

The High Court will today hear final submissions in a judicial review into the decision by Enterprise Minster Michael Martin to order a Labour Inspectorate report into allegations of wage fraud and underpayment at Gama.

Although the report remains injuncted and cannot be published, it has already been forwarded to the Revenue, the garda fraud squad and other authorities for investigation.

Meanwhile, Clare County Council was last night accused of having something to hide over its €123 million contract with Gama to build the Ennis bypass.

The claim by Fine Gael councillor, Joe Carey (FG) followed councillors voting to exclude journalists from a debate relating to the Gama contract at its May meeting last night.

Arising from a recommendation from County Solicitor Michael Houlihan, the councillors voted 19 to nine to have the meeting held in closed session.

Mr Houlihan told councillors he had presented a comprehensive report to County Manager Alec Fleming on the council’s contract with Gama Construction.

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