Monday 19 November 2018

Protestors vow to continue action

Meeting due to be held between management and staff concerned this week

One of the signs outside the haulage company’s premises
One of the signs outside the haulage company’s premises

David Looby

An O’Leary International employee protesting at working conditions threatened to set himself on fire on Wednesday.

Marco Dan Corneu is one of five men, (including one former worker), who have been protesting outside the Marshmeadows haulage company.

The issues being raised by the drivers include duration of shifts, terms and conditions and rights at work and alleged bullying.

One of the protesters, Cristian Falca, 45, said the men are determined to continue their protest.

‘We protested on Saturday and Sunday. It’s cold but we are very determined and we will continue to fight. We are still waiting for answers.’

A meeting is due to take place this Thursday between the protestors and management.

Cristian said SIPTU representatives are due to attend, adding that one Polish driver at the company wanted to join the protest over his conditions, but he was told he had to fight his own case as the men didn’t want to be seen to be escalating their protest.

Director of O’Leary International Brett Gourlie said: ‘No comment, other than to say that the company will work with all the employees to address any concerns that they have.’

The company employs around 400 people, most of whom are foreign nationals.

Speaking on behalf of the group of Romanian workers, a brother of one of the drivers told the New Ross Standard on Wednesday that the gardaí spoke calmly with Marco.

‘My brother is mentally and physically very down.’ He claims when some of the staff joined Siptu their lives changed for the worse.

Marco Dan Corneu said: ‘I am living in Ireland for 10 years and I have two beautiful Irish children. I pay my taxes and health and I respect this beautiful town where I live.’

The trade union SIPTU, which represents some of the employees, have said a number of important issues have been raised by the drivers.

However, a spokesperson said that the unofficial action at the company gates is not supported by the union.

Chief Supt John Roche said officers were dispatched to the premises of O’Leary International of Marshmeadows on Tuesday evening, and again at about 9.45 a.m. on Wednesday following reports of incidents.

‘There was a threat that some of the workers were going to set themselves on fire,’ he said. ‘We sent people over and it was resolved. There is an industrial dispute there, but we wouldn’t get involved in that.

‘On the premises, one of them threatened to douse himself with diesel and set himself alight. One fella did actually pour some diesel over himself, but diesel won’t ignite.

‘One of the partners in the group then defused the situation. However, they went back again the following morning and did the same thing again so we were called back. They’re in talks, but as far as we’re concerned it’s a local industrial dispute. It happened in the yard so it’s between the management and the workers.’

Director of O’Leary International Brett Gourlie added: ‘Any concerns or issues that have arisen over the last number of days the company will be dealing with internally. We take things seriously and we will be addressing them internally.’

New Ross Standard