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We, the workers at Target Express, Cork Depot, strongly dispute the version of events at the company as put out by Mr.Seamus Mc Brien yesterday. The contention of Mr.McBrien is that the company has been and is solvent, and it is the fault of the Revenue Commissioners that the company has been put in to receivership.
Mr McBrien has given figures to the media which illustrate that the company retains strong shareholder value and is profitable. However, the last accounts that have been filed for College Freight, which owns Target Express Ireland (its trading name), go back to 2010. These do show that the company had 7.8 million worth of shareholders funds, the shareholders being Mr.McBrien, his wife Ann McBrien and their daughter Michelle Cunningham, the current HR and Risk Director of Target Express. At December 2010 also, the company made a profit for that year of 1.6 million.
However, these healthy finances do not represent a new company, Target Express Logistics Ltd, which was set up in May 2011, without the knowledge of the workers. This new company is now 15 months old. This company made an annual return on the 30th of Nov 2011 but did not file any company accounts whatsoever. Its directors are Seamus McBrien and Ann McBrien from Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh. There is no evidence of any shareholders value in this company nor do we know if this company has made any profit in the 15 months since it was incorporated.
Another O’Brien family company known as Farnley Investments and its subsidiary ASDA Property Holdings Ltd last made returns in 2010 at the same time as College Freight (Target Express trading name), making exactly the same profit for that year (1.6 million) and having a virtually identical share value (7.6 million). All five of the family companies are private and have never issued public share capital.
As a result, we as workers are being faced with a complex mix of five companies all owned by the same family members whose last returns go back to 2010. We are worried at the setting up of a new Target Express company (Target Express Logistics) as we have no evidence that at this point in time, August 30 2012, that this company is any way solvent.
In fact it isn’t even clear to us whether we work for Target Express Ireland /College Freight or Target Express Logistics Ltd. If we do work for the latter company, we honestly do not know whether it is in a solvent position to discharge its financial obligations. We do not know to what extent the figures for 2010 reflect the current financial state of the company we work for.
We know that the company has been in some financial difficulty in the past year. In recent months there were delays for the workers in getting paid wages. We know of at least one situation where a cheque to a worker’s father (having completed work for the company) in the Cork plant bounced in the past 6 months. We also know that at around the same time, a redundancy cheque to a manager in another depot also bounced. We are aware of large unpaid bills for diesel also in Cork.
The message that we are making is clear: Target Express was not closed down in our view simply by the Revenue Commissioners. In fact, the precarious financial situation of the company is evidenced by the fact that a large proportion of the tax and PRSI that workers have paid in the last two years has not been paid over to the Revenue Commissioners.
We believe that the management have been mis-representing the situation in this regard in the media. We do not believe that the Revenue Commissioners would have taken such action for amounts of money less than a million euro, where there were 390 jobs at stake.
We have serious questions as to what the financial state of the company is at this point, as we are anxious to be paid. We would like to know to what the real financial position of the company is at this point. Our interest in this information is simply to get paid: our wages for the past two weeks; a week on hand and outstanding holiday pay. We also need to negotiate an acceptable redundancy package.
The behaviour of Mr. McBrien however is to not engage with workers nor has he indicated when a receiver may be appointed; or whom this person might be. In fact, he has basically told us to leave the premises in Cork empty handed. We are not assured either by the inter-company complexity that now exists and view with some distrust the setting up of a new company in May last year which has not returns to the Companies Registration Office.
We have worked very hard for this company. We have wives and children going back to school this week. None of us have any savings worth talking about. We cannot claim the dole because the company has not issued us with our P45s. We are in a state of both limbo and penury. We have no choice but to occupy the plant until these issues are resolved. We simply have nothing to lose at this point.
We are appealing to the government; public representatives and the general public to get behind us in order for us to get our due entitlements.
Brian O’Connor & Tom Cullen-Worker Reps at the Cork Plant 087-9611512/087-4120285