Construction workers from SIPTU and BATU trade unions are holding a protest this lunchtime (Thursday, 26th June) outside the Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, to highlight its failure to uphold agreed terms and conditions of employment for workers on projects under its remit.
The projects concerned fall under the Department of Education and Skills School Building Programme and form part of a €1.5 billion Capital Investment Programme.
SIPTU Construction Sector President, Eddie Gunnery, said: “The Department is awarding projects to contractors that are refusing to cooperate with construction trade union organisers seeking to ensure that workers are receiving the correct pay rates and conditions.
“The Department website and public works contracts state that the pay and conditions, including pension, sick pay and death in service cover for construction workers should be no less favourable than those arising from the former Construction Registered Agreements. Last year, in a meeting with trade unions on this issue the Minister for Eudcation and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, stated that he would rely on trade union organisers in the industry to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Department. Well, we’re seeing and shouting, but unfortunately the Department appears to be both blind and deaf.”
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat McCabe, added: “By ignoring this situation the Department is undermining industry standard terms and conditions, therefore the expected boost to local economies is diminished. Skilled construction workers are now working for as little as €10 an hour on some of these projects.”
BATU member, John Doherty, employed on a new school project in Lucan, said: “I can give testimony to being employed on these projects but not being paid wages by the sub-contractor, or provided with payslips as per basic employment legislation.”
Both unions intend to commence a series of protests and other actions until such time as the Department of Education and Skills takes steps to ensure compliance for all such contracts.