It is time for Ireland’s government to take urgent steps to stop individuals from targeting freight companies with false claims for unfair dismissal, wage breaches and working time issues, according to the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI).
The FTAI made the call following its successful support of one of its members, Cosgrave Transport, which had been targeted with more than 25 different complaints by two individuals. All complaints were dismissed in the High Court this week.
“Logistics operators are obliged to comply with stringent European regulations regarding working time, drivers’ hours and other employment laws in order to maintain their licences,” says Aidan Flynn, FTAI’s General Manager. “While genuine claims about employment issues must and should be pursued to the letter of the law, the outcome of this case shines a light on the way that claimants can tie operators in legal knots by registering multiple bogus complaints under one case. This is a waste of the operators’ – and the courts’ – time and should be curtailed immediately by the introduction of new legislation.”
In making so many bogus complaints against one employer, as Mr Flynn continues, two individuals placed an unreasonable financial penalty on the company, which could have had catastrophic implications for the business’ overall workforce:
“Preparing for one legal case is time consuming and costly enough. When an operator is so unfairly targeted by individuals with so many concurrent claims, the costs can quickly spiral and place an unwieldy burden on business overheads. Drivers’ hours directives are a complex area of legislation which need to be fully understood by Rights Commissioners before making judgement on cases of this nature, and the operators must not be assumed to be automatically guilty. Whatever happened to innocent until proven otherwise?
“This operator is now facing a huge legal bill, currently standing at over €75,000, yet the claimants no longer reside in Ireland and cannot be easily tracked for compensation. The country’s freight and logistics sector, which has stood behind Brian Cosgrave and his company, deserves the support of government to ensure that no further bogus claims of this nature be allowed to proceed. Our sector is already under huge pressure, with Brexit and the fluctuating financial situation creating unnecessary pinch points in turnover and operations. To keep Ireland’s businesses trading, they deserve more protection from their elected officials, which will save similar unnecessary cases being taken through the courts.
“Brian Cosgrave and all his staff must be commended on a personal level for taking action and following it through, despite the huge financial cost and personal pressure to his reputation over the past five years. FTA Ireland and its members have been happy to support Brian and donate to his fighting fund during this time, and will await the decision on the allocation of costs, to be made in December, with bated breath.”
FTA Ireland offers training for operators and legislators on drivers’ hours rules, as well as other areas of the freight operators’ licence. For more information and to book a place, please visit http://www.ftai.ie/services/training/