Friday, August 31, 2012

College Freight and Familiar Road Haulage Subsidiary Sink Under Inland Revenue Pressure

Target Express Closes with Loss of 400 Jobs
Shipping News Feature

IRELAND – UK – Earlier this week it was announced that almost 400 jobs at Irish haulage firm Target Express are to go, according to reports as a result of the actions of the Irish Revenue Commissioners, which having frozen the firms’ bank accounts on the 23rd August, forced operations to cease as no funds were available to pay workers wages. The company is now being placed into liquidation in the Republic and placed in administration in Northern Ireland. Target Express was the haulage subsidiary of College Freight which is the company named in the closure actions.

Founded by County Fermanagh businessman Séamus McBrien, the company was the largest privately owned transport and distribution group in Ireland it has had to close its twelve depots across the Republic of Ireland and the four UK based facilities after failing to pay the full amount of a €300,000 tax bill. Mr McBrien, 61, has owned Target Express for the past twenty four years and the firms demise came after the company submitted an affidavit to the High Court which shows debts of €600,000 of which €525,000 is three months worth of workers social insurance contributions and PAYE. Mr McBrien said:

“We got notice on Thursday meaning we couldn’t pay the wages on Friday. I wasn’t prepared to ask people to work for me if I couldn’t guarantee payment. My bank was prepared to pay them €175,000 directly to lift the attachment and then pay them €45,000 a week for the next four weeks but they (the Commissioners) said no.”

Workers in Cork, Limerick and Carlow who staged a sit-in earlier this week concerning two weeks’ worth of unpaid wages have now received assurances that their unresolved pay and redundancy claims will be processed as quickly as possible and yesterday all such protests had ended. The workers claims however could still take up to six months to process when those involved will be paid from a State social fund which is operated by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Irish Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said the manner in which the whole matter had been handled was totally unacceptable claiming the Irish Government were unaware of the risk to the logistics company but stating that in his experience the Commissioners had always in the past used good judgement if faced with credible reasons to allow trade to continue.