TD Mick Wallace is pursued by ex-worker for €10,000 redundancy
A STONEMASON is seeking up to €10,000 in redundancy payments from Independent TD Mick Wallace.
The Wexford developer-turned-politician appeared at an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing in Dublin yesterday to respond to the claim for outstanding redundancy payments from Serghei Portas.
Mr Portas (38), originally from Moldova, claims Mr Wallace's construction firm, M&J Wallace, owes him between €7,924 and €10,000 in redundancy payments after he was made redundant on June 12, 2009.
The firm has since gone into receivership.
Speaking through his solicitor Richard Grogan yesterday, Mr Portas told the tribunal he began working for the builder on a residential site in Dublin's Dominic Street in July 2001 until the end of 2002.
He returned to work at the site again in April 2003 and worked there until June 2009.
The tribunal heard that Mr Portas did not have a work permit when he started working for the builder in 2001 and he took a "break" in order to get a work permit before returning to work in April 2003.
Noting that "the failure to have a (work) permit is a criminal offence on both sides", Mr Grogan argued that Mr Portas is still entitled to redundancy payments under the law.
The issue before the tribunal -- which has been adjourned until February 22 -- is whether Mr Portas is entitled to redundancy payments going back to 2001 or if he technically started working in 2003.
However, Mr Wallace, who attended yesterday's hearing without a lawyer, bristled at the suggestion that Mr Portas may not have been legally entitled to work for him.
"There were a number of people who started working for me. We were totally above board and facilitated them getting work permits. I made sure they were treated in a proper manner," he said.
The tribunal also heard that Mr Wallace and Mr Portas had come to a verbal agreement between them over the redundancy payment issue last week.
"We had a deal. We acknowledge that Mr Portas was made redundant and to leave us alone," a representative for Mr Wallace told the tribunal.
"We thought that was the end of it. We didn't want to be here today," she added.
Mr Wallace, meanwhile, added: "I find it so unfair and irrational what's happening here."
He left the hearing before it was adjourned.
The case is the latest in a string of financial woes for Mr Wallace who was the director of more than a dozen companies that were worth €70m at the height of the boom.
Last month he promised to pay arrears of €45,000 to the Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS) for outstanding staff pension payments.
He has also been ordered by the High Court to repay more than €19m in outstanding loans to ACC Bank.