Target Express workers seek 'some respect'
Workers at the Target Express depot in Little Island are entering their third day of protest as confusion mounts over the reasons behind the company ceasing operations, with a simple message of “give us some respect” coming from the team there.
Workers began their sit-in protest on Tuesday morning after learning on the RTÉ Six One news that they were out of work following the Revenue Commissioners’ attachment of the company’s assets. Customers with debts to the company were also instructed to pay directly to Revenue.
Just before going to print, The Cork Independent learned that a liquidator had arrived at the depot to explain his duties and to compile a stock take. It is believed the workers were not prepared to let him complete this.
Workers are not letting any freights or vans in or out, and, crucially, are holding onto packages within the warehouse.
“The Cork office wants to make a stand and be treated with a bit of respect,” said workers' spokesman Tom Cullen.
“We pay our taxes, we have rights. There has been no dialogue from the company, from any branch of the government. Wages were not paid last Saturday so we gave them a bit of leeway.
"We got a phonecall to say the receiver was coming in and he will take care of the P45’s. Up until then that’s it. No dialogue with the company or with anyone."
The workers have received support from the general public who began leaving food parcels from Wednesday and a number of public representatives expressed their support for the protest.
“We don’t want to be putting businesses and other businesses in jeopardy because of this but we have no other option,” said Tom in relation to the workers holding onto parcels.
“No-one is coming down telling us what’s happening. That’s not respect. We’re after giving respect to the company, to the customers. We’ll be here for as long as it takes.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Chris O’Leary has been with the workers since the protest started and described the situation as “appalling.”
“It’s total chaos and I support the workers sitting here in the facility in Little Island,” said Cllr O’Leary.
“There are packages there, those packages will be demanded, and they have a trump card with that and they are right to use that trump card. These people have carried out their jobs under employment law and they are entitled to get fair notice of being left go. They haven’t got that.”
Minister of State and TD for Cork North Central Kathleen Lynch expressed concern over the confusion about the company’s actions, notably by not seeking examinership.
“I’ve spoken with the Department of Enteprise and with the workers and it is still unclear why the owner [Seamus McBrien] has not asked for examinership,” said Minister Lynch.
“It would allow a degree of protection for the workers and time to work out the business. Mr McBrien needs to clarify his position on whether these workers are redundant or not. This is people’s livelihoods at stake here, the business could still be rescued. It’s deeply unfair.”
Attempts to contact Target Express head office on Wednesday were unsuccessful and the Revenue Commissioners declined to comment on individual cases. However, the Revenue did state that enforcement measures are only pursued after “specific engagement with the business, and, enforcement options like liquidation, bankruptcy and attachment are only used as a last resort in cases where the debt problem is serious and intractable.
Up to 10 workers from the Galway depot joined the Cork protestors on Tuesday evening, while other depots around the country are said to be considering their actions in support of the 22 workers in Little Island.