Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/395/4488
Labour court awards Gama workers €8,000
THE IRISH Labour Court has awarded Gama workers €8,000 per annum for unpaid overtime - a stunning admission of how this construction multinational ripped off its workforce.
For four years GAMA operated a ruthless machine of exploitation of its Turkish workers in Ireland, until being exposed by Socialist Party councillor Mick Murphy and Socialist Party TD (MP) Joe Higgins.
GAMA workers were forced to work up to 84 hours a week, in all kinds of weather, for as little as €2.20 an hour (£1.50) - instead of the €8 claimed to have been paid by the company.
Faced with investigation after Joe used the Irish Parliament to raise the plight of these workers, Gama claimed it had deposited the rest of the workers' wages in accounts in a Dutch-based bank called Finansbank.
The workers knew nothing about these accounts, so Joe and Mick took four former Gama employees to Amsterdam and walked into Finansbank to demand the workers access to their accounts.
An estimated 30-40 million euros in workers' money is deposited in Finansbank.
With the backing of the Socialist Party the Gama workers overcame the climate of intimidation as migrant workers living on site and struck to demand their rights.
After eight weeks of work stoppage Gama workers have voted to accept the Labour Court proposal of €8,000 per year worked plus one month's wages.
However, the award falls far short of what workers should have been paid for the massive amount of overtime worked.
The Irish government now has a huge responsibility to force Gama to pay the settlement within days.
The trade union movement must now move immediately to a major organisation of all migrant workers to ensure this.
In The Socialist 2 June 2005: