Gama to reveal account details

The troubled Gama construction firm tonight agreed to hand over foreign bank account details as part of a probe into alleged underpayment of hundreds of its Turkish workers.

The troubled Gama construction firm tonight agreed to hand over foreign bank account details as part of a probe into alleged underpayment of hundreds of its Turkish workers.

Following a meeting with the striking workers today, SIPTU said the company will furnish documents of 10 employees so that accounts in a Dutch bank can be compared to work sheets.

The employees, who walked off Gama’s building sites in Ireland this week, claim they are owed up to €30m in back pay because of underpayment of wages.

Earlier, SIPTU called for fraud detectives to investigate Gama if a Government report finds it hid workers’ wages in the Dutch-owned Finansbank accounts.

Employment Minister Micheál Martin was given a labour inspectors’ report into Gama yesterday but is blocked from publishing it by a High Court injunction taken by the company.

SIPTU official Eric Fleming today called for the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation to be called in if the report finds that Gama siphoned wages from Turkish workers into Dutch bank accounts.

Gama told SIPTU at a showdown meeting in Dublin yesterday that the men will get access to these funds, but couldn’t explain why it hasn’t happened before now.

SIPTU Construction branch secretary Mr Fleming said today: “If these allegations of secret bank accounts with workers’ wages is proved correct by the Government report, then I believe the fraud squad should be called in. It’s that serious.

“If the claims are true, this is the biggest and most sophisticated scam I have ever come across in Ireland or abroad.”

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins, who first raised the issue in the Dail in February, brought four ex-Gama workers to the Netherlands last month where they discovered four bank accounts in their names in Dutch-owned Fiansbank.

Gama has agreed not to repatriate 140 workers while the current negotiations continue over pay and conditions.

The employees’ work permits have expired but Gama has put a one-week stay on their repatriation.

After six hours of inconclusive talks yesterday, further negotiations resumed at Liberty Hall this afternoon.

Work stoppages on Gama sites continue in the meantime and Employment Minister Mr Martin also plans to meet unions and the Construction Industry Federation to discuss his concerns about the firm’s Irish operations.

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