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Workplace deaths fall 13pc but farms still most dangerous place

FARM deaths accounted for almost half of all workplace fatalities last year, figures show.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) confirmed 47 people were killed in workplace accidents in 2012, down 13pc from 54 a year earlier.

The victims included two children and two members of the public.

The HSA said the agriculture sector recorded the highest number of deaths for the third year in succession, with 21.

Chief executive Martin O’Halloran said efforts have been made to improve performance in farming.

“We have run awareness campaigns, distributed guidance and tailored our inspection programme to help create a culture of safe farming,” he said.

“Some progress has been made but, unfortunately, last year 21 families lost loved ones due to farm accidents.

“Farms are family homes as well as workplaces so farmers need to realise that safe farming is about protecting themselves, their family and their businesses.”

The biggest reduction in fatalities was in the transportation and storage sector, with one death reported compared to seven in 2011, while there were no fatalities reported in mining and quarrying.

Elsewhere, the construction sector saw an increase in fatalities from six in 2011 to eight in 2012 while 19 deaths involved vehicles.

Seven fishermen also died, including the victims of the Tit Bonhomme which sank at the mouth of Glandore Bay.

There were about 7,000 non-fatal injuries reported to the authority.

Mr O’Halloran said the health and social work sector has experienced a particularly high level of non-fatal injuries in recent years.

“Incidents involving manual handling and slips, trips and falls tend to be the most common cause of injury,” he added.

“We’re now halfway through our five-year plan to reduce work-related accidents and ill-health in this sector and will continue to work with the relevant bodies to help address the key hazards.”


Updated REA For The Construction Industry

The Labour Court Recommendation LCR 20417 in response to the CIF claim for cost reductions was received on the 20th November 2012 and contains the following:

  • • A further 2.5% reduction on top of the 7.5% received in 2011on the basic hourly
    rate of €18.60, which brings it to €16.74 per hour; with corresponding reductions in general operative rates.
  • • The entry rate is reduced to €12 per hour from €13.77. This rate was €14.88
    in 2011. The Labour Court
    recommends, in this regard, that a mechanism be introduced to ensure that
    existing or unemployed workers are not displaced. Agreement between the parties
    is required on this item.

The recommendation contains the following on
travelling allowances, which apply in the main urban areas:

Dublin, Cork,
Galway, Limerick andWaterford

  • • There is no travel allowance up to 10
  • • 1/2 an hours pay per day to apply from 10 to
    15 kilometres
  • • 1 hours pay per day to apply from 15 to 20
  • • 1 1/2 hours pay per day to apply from 20 to
    32 kilometres per day


All distances are radial and have the GPO as the central and focal point and work outwards from there to the actual site.


  • • Countrymoney will decrease as well as increase in line with the CPI
  • • The Labour Court also recommends that the parties meet to agree procedures and processes toaddress compliance in the industry.

Both the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the CIF must decide whether to accept or reject the Labour Court recommendation. The Industrial Relations committee and the Steering committee will meet presently to discuss this recommendation and a special meeting of the Executive Body is also being arranged.

The Supreme Court Appeal on the constitutionalchallenge to the Electrical Contracting REA is listed to be heard on 18thDecember 2012.

The challenge to the Construction REA taken by CSF Construction will be back before the High Court on 21st November 2012.There is a motion before the Court brought by CSF seeking to amend their pleadings. We understand that the substantive issue(s) of the appeal will not be dealt with until the motion is dealt with so the substantive issue is likely to be adjourned

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Tesco worker fired for driving ‘flat out’ at 10kmh in warehouse, tribunal told

A TESCO worker was dismissed from his job for allegedly driving a small tow-truck type vehicle “flat out” at its top speed of 10kmh through a company warehouse, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has been told.

Onder Ates (34), of Lotts Lane, Lower Liffey Street, Dublin, claims he was unfairly dismissed by Tesco in August 2010 following the incident at the company’s distribution warehouse in Donabate on July 28 that year.

The company claims he had previously received two final written warnings over health and safety issues and had been driving his LLOP machine – a low-level order picker with cages in tow – “flat out” at around 10kmh when it struck one of the aisles.

The company said it was a “wilful failure” to comply with health and safety regulation.

Following an investigation and disciplinary hearing, he was dismissed from his job in August 2010. Tesco section manager Colm Cloake described the distribution centre as a “little village of machines” and one of the largest warehouses of its type in Europe. At any one time 100 machines could be operating in any of the more than 100 aisles and each LLOP had a top operating speed of 10kmh.

He said he saw Mr Ates taking the corner of the aisle at speed  without slowing down. One of the cages being towed by the LLOP “whacked” the structure and came off the vehicle.

Asked what should have been a safe speed to negotiate the turn, Mr Cloake said a driver would probably need to reduce speed to 5kmh to turn safely.

He approached Mr Ates with the intention of issuing him with a penalty point for unsafe driving – which would trigger a health and safety investigation – and asked him for his
penalty point card, but Mr Ates refused to hand it over.

“He was aggressive in his tone and body language and was waving his arms. He became very irate and drove off,” said Mr Cloake, who subsequently reported the incident to his shift manager.

Shift manager Stephen Delaney said Mr Ates had come to his attention on a number of previous occasions. He previously issued Mr Ates  a final written warning in 2009 after he intentionally tried to cover up with paint some scratches on an LLOP.


This was in breach of health and safety policy in which any damage to a machine must be
reported. By doing what he did, Mr Ates had also been in breach of Tesco’s honesty policy because he denied the incident.

Tesco depot manager Michael Kelly, who investigated the incident and who ultimately
issued the dismissal notice, said Mr Ates had been before him on a number of health and safety related issues.

The representative of Mr Ates,  remarked that his client had been issued a final written warning for in effect “touching up” one or two scratches.

“You make it sound very innocuous but what he was doing was extremely dangerous,” Mr Kelly replied.

If that damage had not been detected by the company, the relevant manager would not know whether any other damage had been caused to racking in the warehouse, which could potentially fall.

He felt that none of the “messages” about health and safety were getting through to Mr Ates and ultimately he felt he had no choice but to dismiss him.

The hearing will resume on April 19 next.


Tesco boss sacked for taking €1,000 ‘gift’ from contractor

A SENIOR Tesco manager was fired from his job after he received cheques totalling €1,000 as gifts from a contractor.

Niall Browne, an engineer and maintenance manager with Tesco Ireland, claims he was unfairly dismissed from his €70,000-a-year job with the supermarket giant.

The gifts came to light after an anonymous letter was sent to Tesco Ireland chief executive Tony Keohane, in which it was claimed that a contractor was giving “substantial gifts” to

An internal investigation was launched and it discovered that three senior managers had received monetary gifts.

Two of them, including Mr Browne, lost their jobs as a result, while the third was kept on as he had not cashed the cheques he was given.

A fourth employee was also identified in the probe, however, the supermarket said this person had already left the company by the time the whistle-blowing letter was received.

An Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin heard yesterday that Mr Browne worked in the property services department which oversees maintenance of Tesco stores throughout the country and has the power to award contracts.

Mr Browne claims the two bank drafts he received from the named contractor — the first for €500 in December 2008, the second also for €500 in December 2009 — were lodged into his bank account by his wife without his knowledge.

In an opening statement before an Employment Appeals Tribunal held in Dublin yesterday, it was claimed on behalf of Mr Browne that he was obliged to bring home any gifts he received at Christmas time, such as cards or bottles of whiskey or wine, and that
the envelopes containing the drafts got “mixed up with household post”.

Barrister for Mr Browne, told the tribunal that the disciplinary investigation carried out by Tesco was “essentially a sham”.

“It would appear that Tesco were making an example out of Niall Browne at the time and this was an unfair position to take,” she added.

Barrister for Tesco, said Mr Browne was in a relatively senior position with the company when he was dismissed in October 2010 for serious misconduct.

She said the company’s “gift and conflict of interest policy” was very clear. Ms McKenna said that during the investigation process, Mr Browne said he was aware of the policy.

She said one of the bank drafts was lodged to Mr Browne’s family bank account and the other was lodged to his personal account.

She said there had been a “serious breach of trust” and Mr Browne’s dismissal was “fair, proportionate and reasonable”.

The case was adjourned to December 3


Dunnes told Muslim worker she couldn’t wear her hijab

A FORMER sales assistant at Dunnes Stores has claimed she was unable to go to work because she was not permitted to wear a religious headdress there.

Loreta Tavoraite (35), who is originally from Lithuania, began working in a Dunnes Stores in Ballincollig in Cork in July 2007.

She later converted to Islam and for religious reasons wanted to wear a
hijab — a headscarf that covers the hair, leaving the face exposed — at work.

Ms Tavoraite, of Parknamore in Ballincollig, is suing Dunnes, of 46-50 South Great George’s Street, Dublin, for unfair dismissal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Cork was told yesterday that staff at Dunnes wear a standard uniform.

Her solicitor said his client was told she “couldn’t come to work wearing a hijab”.

“As far as she was concerned, being a devout Muslim, you must wear a hijab. It’s an obligation,” said Mr Horan.

“Her view was I’m ready to work. I want to work, but because of my religion I have to wear a hijab.”

In October 2010 Ms Tavoraite met with Bill Farrell, store manager at the Ballincollig store, and the human resources manager.

She explained her religion involved covering her head with a hat or scarf while in public.

Mr Farrell told Ms Tavoraite that her religion was her own business and her business only.


Ms Tavoraite was repeatedly advised by the company that they wanted her to return to work but she never did.

At meeting in early November 2010, she was informed that if she continued not coming to work they would have to consider her contract and that it might be terminated.

She was dismissed from her position on November 6, 2010.

Asked by Mr Horan what would happen if a member of staff came into work wearing a chain and cross, Mr Farrell said he had never encountered such a situation.

The hearing continues.


Exploitation case worker not entitled to €92,000 award

The High Court has ruled that a Pakistani man is not entitled to a Rights Commissioner award of €92,000 because his employment contract was substantively illegal.

The ruling will have serious consequences for many other undocumented migrant workers experiencing breaches of workplace rights.

Mr Justice Gerald Hogan noted that the Rights Commissioner had found that Muhammad Younis had been the victim of the most appalling exploitation by his employer by being underpaid and forced to work excessive hours.

However, he said Mr Younis had no effective recourse in respect of that exploitation.

Mr Younis had been working for Amjad Hussein of the Poppadom restaurant in Newlands Cross in Dublin.

The judge said he was concerned that the Employment Permits Act 2003 had perhaps produced consequences that were not foreseen or envisaged, because it meant that any employment contract involving a non-EU migrant worker without a work permit was substantively illegal.

He said specifically it may not have been intended by the Oireachtas that undocumented migrant workers, not least a vulnerable one such as Mr Younis, should be effectively deprived of the benefit of all employment legislation by virtue of his illegal status, even though he or she may not be responsible for or even realise the nature of the illegality.

He said he intends to transmit a copy of his decision to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation so that the Oireachtas may give consideration should it think fit to do so, to the policy implications
for the 2003 Act as manifested in his judgment.

Siobhán O’Donoghue of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland described the ruling as devastating for Muhammad Younis and for all undocumented migrants.

She pointed out that Mr Younis had entered the country legally with a work permit, but that the employer who had exploited him had rendered him illegal by failing to renew his work permit.

Ms O’Donoghue called on the Oireachtas to address the problem with the Employment Permits Act urgently.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Younis said that he could not believe that he will not get what he is owed, despite the fact that the Labour Court and the Rights Commissioner confirmed that he had been abused.

Lawyers for Mr Hussein said he completely denies any allegation that Mr Younis was “exploited” or that he engaged Mr Younis in “forced labour” of any nature.

In a statement they said: “Mr. Hussein has always maintained that Mr Younis’s claim against him was unfounded, and accordingly, we welcome the decision of the High Court quashing the determinations of the Labour Court.

“We would also draw attention to the fact that Mr Hussein, as noted by Justice Hogan in his decision, was not represented at the hearing before the Rights Commissioner, where the wild allegations of Mr Younis were accepted at face value”.


Sacked Target workers vow to continue sit in until they get paid their wages

SACKED haulage workers at the tax debt-ridden company Target Express have vowed to continue a sit-in at depots until they get unpaid wages.

Seamus McBrien, the chief executive, claimed he was forced to cease trading after Revenue Commissioners froze its accounts and refused to strike a deal on money owed.

It is understood he is planning to issue further details on the state of the business today.

But employees up and down the country have reacted angrily amid claims they heard about the closure on news bulletins and have only had one contact with management – to tell them to leave premises.

David O’Gorman, one of up to 18 workers who occupied the Cork depot, said they have had no contact bar one email and a phone call from the company.

“We’re staying here until we get paid,” he said.

“We were contacted by the regional manager. All he had to say was ‘Leave. There’s no money. It’s pointless staying there’.

“No-one has told us anything. We’re like everyone else, waiting for the update, we have a TV here so we’ll probably find out on the news.”

Sit-ins are also taking place in Galway. Some employees are owed two weeks wages and none in Cork have been given their P45s meaning they cannot sign on for the dole.

Mr McBrien claimed his company accounts were frozen on Thursday over a debt of less than half a million euro.

Revenue has refused to discuss the Target Express tax liabilities specifically. But it defended its action, saying that cases are only referred for enforcement where a taxpayer or business fails to pay tax that is due.

Target Express, the main sponsor of Tyrone GAA, had depots across the north and south of Ireland and forecast a profit of 1.6 million euro this year.

It was named distributing company of the year last November and held several large contracts, including with the A Wear clothes chain and Smyths toy store.

Mr McBrien maintains that his firm paid one million euro to tax chiefs in the last six to eight weeks and another 214,000 euro on Monday.

He claimed that another 80,000 euro was ordered by Wednesday and that his account was frozen on Thursday, despite the money being promised by Friday.

He said he has contacted the offices of Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to make representations but claimed they would not get involved.

The Irish Road Haulage Association warned that another six firms employing thousands of people will be gone by Christmas unless the Government stems the tide of increasing fuel prices and use of laundered diesel in the sector.


1,275 have dole cut for refusing job and training offers

OVER 1,275 jobless people have had their benefits cut – because they failed to take-up work or training offers.The Department of Social Protection said today that while there is a right to a payment, there was also a matching responsibility on the unemployed person ‘’to engage’’. But today the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed told RTE’s News at One that ‘’penalising those who are unemployed should be a last resort’’.

Spokesperson Bríd O’Brien said the bigger issue facing those who are unemployed was the lack of quality education places. The Department introduced a measure last April, where jobseeker payments would be cut by €44 a week. The reduction is for those who refuse to take-up training offers, employment opportunities or job interviews.

Since then, over 1,200 such payments have been reduced. The highest rate of jobseeker benefit is €188, which can be cut by €44. Lower rates of benefit face lower, proportional cuts. The penalty applies only to an individual’s personal jobseeker payments. No penalty is applied to any additional payments relating to adult or child dependants.


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Average pay of worker in small firm is €30,000

An average employee of a small firm earns around €30,000, works between 37 and a half to 39 hours a week and has 21 days holiday a year.

This is according to the Small Firms Association’s annual survey on pay. 1,345 small companies from manufacturing, distribution, retail and services took part in the survey. The total number of employees was 31,760.

The main findings reveal just 9% of employees earn more than €45,000 and on the bottom end of the scale, 22% earn up to €25,000. The highest percentage of responses (38%) earn between €25,000 to €35,000.

When it comes to non-pay benefits, 71% of employers contribute to health insurance and 43% of small business have health insurance schemes. However, only 18% have PRSA schemes.

The average rates of basic pay varied from €428.56 per week for a care assistant to €767.14 per week for an electrician. Many firms are not planning pay increases for its employees.

“The survey indicates that the proportion of small domestic firms planning pay increases remains small. The concerns regarding labour costs and business activity will continue for small firms in the domestic economy as they struggle to maintain employment levels,” said Avine McNally, Assistant Director of the Small Firms Association.


Over 7,700 days lost to industrial disputes – CSO

During the second quarter of this year, 7,754 days were lost to three
industrial disputes according to the Central Statistics Office.

That is over 13 times the amount for the same period last year when only 572 days were lost. These three disputes in progress involved 1,445 workers and three firms.

Two disputes were in the Industry sector and one in the Wholesale and
retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles sector.

When looking at figures from 2004 to 2012, it was 2009 that saw the highest
number of industrial disputes at 21 with 329,593 days being lost.