€1.5m damages for N7 road crew
Almost 30 Portuguese workers on an Irish road construction project are entitled to recover damages - estimated at around €1.5m - over breach of employment contracts with three companies.
The companies, also Portuguese, traded here as the RAC Éire partnership.
High Court judge Mr Justice David Keane ruled the firms engaged in "systematic and deliberate" under-recording of hours of work, leading to underpayment of the workers in breach of their employment contracts.
He found the defendants were not entitled to deduct €17.50 daily (€520 monthly) from the workers' wages for accommodation of a "deplorable, even dangerous" standard.
That accommodation, for up to 150 workers over 12 months, was an "unacceptably cramped" prefab "work camp" located in a slip road near the N7 Nenagh-Limerick road project, he said.
It had "sub-standard and inadequate" sanitary arrangements and no drinking water.
A witness had told the court the standard of accommodation in prisons was superior to that provided to these workers.
The court found the 27 were entitled to recover the full sums of underpayment of wages, plus sums deducted for their accommodation, laundry and for "benefits in kind", plus interest,
The case arose after Limerick County Council awarded Bóthar Hibernian the public works contract to design and build the Nenagh to Limerick dual carriageway. The 27, who were employed between 2007 and 2009 sued three companies: Rosas Construtores S.A; Construcoes Gabriel A.C. Couto S.A and Empresa Deconstrucores Amandio Carvalho S.A trading as RAC Contractors and/or RAC Éire Partnership.