independent

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Two Wexford fruit farmers fined thousands for breaches of labour laws

Breaches of labour law led to thousands of euro in fines for fruit farmers Philip Somers from Townamullogue in Courtnacuddy and Wheelock Fruits Limited in Finchogue.

Details of the offences were given to the District Court on a previous occasion and the cases were called again on May 17 for the verdict of Judge Gerard Haughton.

The cases involving underage workers, minimum wage and working time offences were taken by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, who had their inspector Paula Coogan in court.

She dealt first with the 11 charges outstanding against Somers and confirmed that he had provided her with bank statements showing payments made to workers.

It was also accepted that one child who was on the field and apparently picking fruit when the inspector called had been with her parents at the time.

Defending solicitor Julie Breen insisted that her client had 'mended his hand' and Ms Coogan acknowledged Somers' undertaking to keep a register of workers under 18 years of age.

Eleven fines of €250 each were imposed, with six months allowed for payment by a man described by his solicitor as not being of great means.

Judge Gerard Haughton then turned his attention to the seven charges facing Wheelock Fruits.

Ms Coogan said that she had received copies of payslips to assist her in her investigations but not time-sheets.

When she enquired about four workers aged under 18, the details of only two were available.

Ms Breen felt that Wheelock's had amended their hand as best they could and pointed out that guilty pleas had been tendered.

Huge strides forward had been taken by her clients in the keeping of proper records and the solicitor was confident there would be no repeat.

Six fines of €300 each were handed down and one fine of €750 for the failure to give full information required by the authorities.

Philip Somers was fined a total of €2,750 and Wheelock Fruits Limited a total of €2,550.

Wexford People

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