Údarás to take call centre firm to task over unpaid wages

ÚDARÁS na Gaeltachta is expected to apply in the courts this morning to take the assets of a Scottish company into receivership in order to secure the money owed to both itself and the company’s 108 employees.

Contact 4, a financial call centre, announced two weeks ago, without prior warning to its employees, that it was shutting down its three operations in the Gaeltacht areas of Kerry, Donegal and Mayo.

Since that time, the workers have not received the pay to which they are entitled for the previous five weeks’ work.

The company’s owner, Pearse Flynn, has claimed he was willing to pay the wages, at least €2,000 per employee, on the week following the closure. However, he said Údarás Na Gaeltachta had told him after the closure occurred, that it intended to reclaim at least a percentage of the €3 million it gave to Contact 4 in grants over the last three years.

“That made the employees creditors of the company. Because of Údarás, under insolvency law, I cannot pay them the money because of the demands for the repayment of the grants,” he said.

In reply, Údarás na Gaeltachta said yesterday that it had issued no formal claim for grant repayments until it became clear last Friday that Contact 4 was not going to honour commitments made to the employees and to Údarás that arrears of wages and other entitlements would be paid by the companies owned by the Contact 4 group to its employees in the three Gaeltacht centres on that day.

“Údarás cannot understand how Pearse Flynn was surprised that grants were repayable, as he personally signed all grant agreements which outlined the circumstances under which the grants would be repayable,” said Údarás.

“In any event, the fact that the grants paid to the company are repayable would have no bearing last week on the issue of the payment of wages and entitlements due to the workforce as they have priority over all other creditors, including Údarás na Gaeltachta grant repayments.

“Údarás cannot understand how Pearse Flynn was surprised that grants were repayable, as he himself personally signed all grant agreements which outlined the circumstances under which the grants would be repayable.

“In any event, the fact that the grants paid to the company are repayable would have no bearing last week on the issue of the payment of wages and entitlements due to the workforce as they have priority over all other creditors, including Údarás na Gaeltachta grant repayments.”

Yesterday, Údarás confirmed it had appointed Declan Taite of Farrell, Grant and Sparks as receiver with effect from 9am today and that he would today outline to the employees in the three centres how he proposes to deal with the issue of outstanding wages and other entitlements.

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