Pay rise for building workers!

Tens of thousands of construction workers are set to win a 10% pay rise after months of campaigning by SIPTU and other unions.

The proposed new minimum rates are set out in a Labour Court recommendation for a new Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) which is designed to provide for minimum rates of pay and other conditions of employment in the construction industry.

The recommendation for a new SEO for construction workers follows detailed discussions with union representatives over recent weeks, according to SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Greg Ennis.

“The union submission covered minimum rates of pay, pensions, sick pay and travel time. A key objective of all the construction unions in these negotiations was to preserve the integrated pay structure involving all categories and grades. We were also determined to protect organised employments from under cutting by non-union labour,” Greg Ennis said.

The negotiations achieved a 10% increase of the minimum craft rate to €18.93 per hour with other operative grades receiving the same ‘pro rata’ increase. The increase restores the 7.5% pay cut enforced on construction workers during the recession with a 2.5% annual increase on top. The original demand by the trade unions was for a 15% rise.

Greg Ennis said that SIPTU would now pursue the remaining 5% and has also proposed a complete review of the grading structure within the construction sector in the light of the changes which have occurred since it was put in place in 2000.

“A review will also seek to further improve wages and conditions for workers and would afford all categories, including crane operators, an opportunity to have claims assessed on their merits, while preserving the concept of an integrated pay structure,” he said. “However, we will be insisting on immediate implementation of the 10% pay increase.”

The SEO is a new mechanism which was achieved by the Labour Party during its term in the last government and is legally binding on all employers, across whole sectors of the economy. It prevents undercutting of rates of pay and conditions by non-union employers in the competition for contracts. An SEO must be approved by the Government and both houses of the Oireachtas before it becomes legally binding on all employers.

The construction sector will be the first to have such an SEO put in place. Meanwhile, negotiations with the CIF on the introduction of a new Registered Employment Agreement for workers in the industry will continue. This will deal with issues other than pay, including dispute procedures, annual leave, bereavement leave, subsistence payments, access to the health trust scheme and other entitlements.

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