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GMB seeks action as German subbie flees UK law

5 Sep 12 The GMB is seeking EU action as a German-based subcontractor has fled UK jurisdiction after failing to pay a employment tribunal award.

The £251,204.81 award was ordered by a Wales employment tribunal in a case involving 14 Polish migrant workers.

The union said that the case has exposed a hole in the EU workers Directive and that this must be closed. It said that main contractor Siemens has to take responsibility and put pressure on Darmar to pay the workers what they are owed.

“There can never be a single labour market in the EU if companies like Darmar are able to simply walk out of an EU jurisdiction leaving workers high and dry,” said GMB European officer Kathleen Walker Shaw.

The GMB is seeking changes to an EU Directive to ensure that its 14 members will be paid the £251,204.81 awarded to them earlier this year by an employment tribunal in Cardiff after German-based contractor Darmar fled UK jurisdiction having failed to pay the award.

GMB was successful in February in the tribunal in the claim for 14 laggers who were Polish migrant workers employed by Darmar in the construction of Uskmouth Power Station for main contractor Siemens.

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The site was covered by the engineering construction national agreement. By autumn 2010 Darmar, the thermal insulation subcontractor then based in Middlesex, employed laggers on the site all of whom were migrants workers. All were underpaid. GMB brought successful tribunal claims on behalf of 14 out of a total of 84 laggers on the site. 

Shaw said the GMB will not let the matter rest and will continue to seek support for changes to the directive regulations to close the legal hole. “When it became clear in February 2012 that Darmar had fled the UK jurisdiction I raised the case with the European Parliament Committee on social and employment affairs,” she said. “I also raised the case with European Building Workers Federation asking for support in tracking Darmar through their affiliates in the countries concerned. The Polish and German colleagues responded saying they would contact their authorities. Our German colleagues have instigated investigations by SOKA and employment departments in Germany.

“In March 2012 I brought the case to the attention of EU Commission asking for support in tackling firms that attempt to flee their responsibilities cross border, with particular reference to Darmar case.”

GMB said that last month GMB it received a very general response from the EU Commission to the March letter. GMB responded to the EU Commission earlier this month raising its concerns about the general nature of their response and its failure to address the issues at hand. The EU Commission is being urged to do more to help us in this case and prevent further abuse.

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