The scandalous staffing company, Atlanco Rimec, is on the warpath. In the Netherlands, the company has, among others, sued a trade union, union officials, an employers’ organization and a pension fund.
The whole story began in November 2013 when the Dutch newspaper, De Limburger, published an article about the situation of Atlanco Rimec’s workers employed on the Avenue2 project, a collaboration between the construction companies Strukton, Ballast Nedam (the prime contractor) and Atlanco Rimec. The workers on this project were tunnelling under the motorway near Maastricht. The title of the article was “Slaven van de A2.” The newspaper revealed that Atlanco Rimec deducted €968 a month from the workers’ wages for housing and “other services”. The workers were accomodated in dilapidated houses that were due to be demolished allowing Atlanco Rimec to rent the houses cheaply.
After the first article was published, all hell broke loose in this small country. The case ended up with the rulers of the Maastricht municipality where the road construction was completed. An expert committee was appointed to investigate the matter. Ths investigation happened very quickly and was completed only a few months later. The expert committee conclusion was that Atlanco Rimec had to ”pay back the money to the workers” or if Atlanco Rimec does not then the consortium Avenue2* has to. Both Atlanco Rimec and the consortium are now saying that they should follow the Committee’s opinion. (However, Atlanco Rimec did not pay and the Consortium has paid half the sum owed).
After the De Limburger article, the TBB (Technisch Bureau Bouwnijverheid) began to investigate Atlanco Rimec. TBB’s task was to ensure that companies comply with the collective agreement. Behind the TBB stand trade unions and employers organizations. TBB suspected that Atlanco Rimec did not follow the collective agreement, such as paying pension contributions, and froze the company assets. However, in court, Atlanco Rimec managed to get this lifted fairly promptly and regained access to their assets again.
The man behind Atlanco Rimec is Michael O’Shea from the Republic of Ireland. He now begins, through Atlanco Rimec, a complete suing frenzy against basically everyone and everything. TBB is sued, as is one of its employees. Because unions and employers are behind TBB, Atlanco Rimec also sued the employers’ organization Bouwend Nederland and the construction union FNV Bouw. At the same time the company sued two other union officials. But the lawsuits do not stop there …
The pension fund BPF Bouw also reacted to the articles in De Limburger and discovered that Atlanco Rimec had not made pension contributions. The Pension Fund demanded that Atlanco Rimec pay what it owes. Atlanco Rimec does not want to pay the money so they also sued the pension fund.
An interim decision
Atlanco Rimec is trying to sue a total of seven organizations and individuals. There will now be a series of trials with different issues that the court has to consider. But there has been one interim decision (decision pending the final) that can not be appealed. This stated that Atlanco Rimec must follow the collective agreement in all aspects. The decision was not a surprise, as Atlanco Rimec is a licensed employment agency in the Netherlands and to get a license the company needs to follow the collective agreement.
One million euro
The judge also decided that Atlanco Rimec shall pay, within ten days, half a million euros to a notary. This money will be a guarantee that the pensions are going to be paid.
In addition, the judge decided that, as said, that Atlanco Rimec has to abide by the dutch collective labour agreements. Everytime it doesn´t Atlanco Rimec has to pay €10 000 up to a maximum of €500 000. The ten days are up – but not a cent has been submitted.
June will be an exciting month for those involved in the Netherlands, this is the month when it is determined whether the interim decision stands.
In France, it is also an exciting time in June. On June 9, the verdict against Atlanco Rimec will be made. While the company, with its owner Michael O’Shea leading the way, has a penchant for lawsuits they have avoided France.
The first trial date was moved because Atlanco Rimec changed lawyer. And then, when the trial finally took place on 10-12 March, Atlanco Rimec did not show up.
The company is indicted for the illegal loan of workers and undeclared work, with both tax and social security contributions not being paid. There will be substantial sums to pay. The prosecutor also requires 220,000 euros in fines from Atlanco Rimec and that the company shall be banned from working in France. If the company refuses to pay it will be the owner of Atlanco Rimec that has to pay.
The owner of Atlanco Rimec, Michael O’Shea, is estimated to be worth about 65 million euros.
Stoppafusket has tried to reach Michael O’Shea for a comment.
Atlanco Rimec Group consists of many different companies named Atlanco and Rimec. From time to time one of the company is liquidated. And from time to time a new one is created. In The Netherlands, a UK Rimec company in the Group has the business contract, but the workers are employed in a different Portuguese company in the Group. Stoppafusket choose to describe all this as Atlanco Rimec.
* Consortium Avenue2 consists of company Strukton (has used Atlanco Rimec for many years) and Ballast Nedam.