“Stop taking the Mickey”, workers tell building bosses

unite-white-out-of-redCrane operators need a lift says Unite

July 21st: Unite, which represents over 90% of crane operators in Ireland, held a protest outside the headquarters of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) in Dublin today.  The event marked the first day of industrial action which had been deferred for a week to facilitate talks at the WRC, which broke up inconclusively yesterday. In an indication of Unite members’ anger at CIF chief Tom Parlon’s claim that Irish cranes are ‘Mickey Mouse’, today’s demonstration had an appropriate theme with Unite crane operators telling the CIF: ‘Stop taking the Mickey!’

Unite’s Crane Committee decided to hold a demonstration rather than picket individual firms to minimise disruption in the sector and inconvenience to other construction workers.  However, it is likely that pickets will be placed on relevant CIF firms next week.

Speaking at today’s event, Unite Regional Officer for Construction Tom Fitzgerald called on the CIF to engage meaningfully with Unite on the workers’ pay demands, pointing out that “an idle crane is an idle site” and that a swift resolution of this dispute is in the interests of the construction sector as a whole.

“Crane operators need a lift, and Unite is determined to ensure that they get it.  Unite is calling on the CIF to engage meaningfully with Unite on the legitimate pay demands of crane operators.  We note that the WRC remains available to assist in resolving this dispute”, Tom Fitzgerald said.

A workers’ representative who attended yesterday’s WRC talks added:

“It’s time for the CIF to stop taking the Mickey and stop insulting our members.  Crane operators are amongst the most skilled workers in the construction industry – and their job is among the most stressful.  Every lift has the potential to cause damage, injury or death, and operators are tasked with maintaining complex machinery.  These levels of risk and responsibility must be reflected in their pay”, he said.

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Crane operators to tell CIF tomorrow: Stop taking the Mickey!

unite-white-out-of-redWorkers to demonstrate at Construction House tomorrow (Friday), 11.30 am – 1.30 pm

Action follows inconclusive WRC talks, commencement of industrial action

July 20th: Following the inconclusive break-up of talks at the WRC today, Unite crane operators will tomorrow (Friday July 21st) take their demands to the gates of the CIF.  In response to CIF chief Tom Parlon’s claim that Irish cranes are ‘Mickey Mouse’, the demonstration will have an appropriate theme with Unite crane operators telling the CIF: ‘Stop taking the Mickey!’

Unite represents over 90 per cent of crane operators in Ireland, and members will be available for interview at tomorrow’s event.

Tomorrow’s demonstration will mark the commencement of industrial action, which had been deferred for a week to facilitate talks at the WRC. 

The event will take place tomorrow (Friday) at Construction House, Canal Road, Dublin 6, from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm.

While tomorrow marks the start of the union’s industrial action against CIF firms, it was decided to hold a demonstration rather than picket individual firms to minimise disruption in the sector and inconvenience to other construction workers.  However, it is likely that pickets will be placed on relevant CIF firms next week.

Commenting on the inconclusive break-up of talks at the WRC today, Unite Regional Officer for Construction Tom Fitzgerald said:

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New Minimum Wage level welcome but still over €2 short of Living Wage

unite-white-out-of-redLow pay is bad for business says Kelly

July 18th: Unite has welcomed the 30 cent increase to the National Minimum Wage approved by the Cabinet today, but pointed out that the new rate of €9.55 is still over €2 short of the Living Wage, calculated this year as €11.70 per hour.  Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly pointed out that today’s modest increase follows what he described as the ‘derisory’ increase of 10 cents last year.

“Unite has consistently argued that what is needed is a medium-term strategy to bring the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage.  In that context, today’s modest increase only slightly narrows the gap with the Living Wage of €11.70, which has been independently calculated as what is needed to provide a minimum acceptable standard of living.

“Poverty pay is endemic in Ireland: we have one of the highest incidences of low pay in the industrialised economies.

“Low pay is not only bad for workers and their communities – it is also bad for business, resulting in higher staff turnover with the associated costs, reduced productive and low staff morale.

“While today’s modest increase is welcome, it follows on last year’s derisory 10 cent increase and still leaves the Minimum Wage over €2 short of the Living Wage.

“What is needed in the medium term is not only a strategy to align the Minimum Wage with the Living Wage, but also a strategy to bring down costs such as rent, which in Dublin accounts for over 40 per cent of the Living Wage”, Jimmy Kelly said.

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Crane dispute: Unite defers industrial action to facilitate WRC engagement

unite-white-out-of-redJuly 13th: Unite today (Thursday 13 July) announced that it is deferring the crane operators’ industrial action which had been scheduled to start tomorrow in order to facilitate engagement with the CIF at the Workplace Relations Commission, expected to take place early next week.

Industrial action is being suspended for one week.  In order to allow space for meaningful and constructive engagement, Unite will not be commenting further at present.

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From ‘Lunatics’ to ‘Mickey Mouse’: Parlon’s industrial relations approach damaging to construction sector

unite-white-out-of-redCrane strike resumes today, CIF sites to be picketed from Friday

July 11th: Unite, which represents approximately 170 crane operators currently engaged in industrial action, today said that the industrial relations approach adopted by CIF Director-General Tom Parlon was damaging to the construction sector and CIF members. The union was responding to Mr Parlon’s weekend comments in which the CIF chief said that Irish cranes are ‘Mickey Mouse’ compared to those in other cities and that crane operation is not ‘rocket science’.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:

“Trade unionists still remember Mr Parlon’s remarks branding electricians as ‘lunatics’ during a previous dispute, and his decision over the weekend to run down both the Irish construction sector and our members does not bode well for resolution of this dispute.

“At a time when construction sector profits have doubled since 2012 while wages remain below 2004 levels in real terms, our members are determined to ensure that construction workers share in the sector’s recovery and that crane operators’ wages reflect the levels of skill and responsibility involved in the job.

“Our members’ overwhelming vote to extend our industrial action to relevant CIF sites stems from their frustration at the CIF’s refusal to engage. Mr Parlon’s remarks over the weekend have simply hardened our members’ resolve, and are damaging to the construction sector, the CIF and the companies Mr Parlon represents”, Jimmy Kelly said.

Unite is today (Tuesday July 11th) picketing the Gem site at the Bridewell, and pickets on relevant CIF sites will start from Friday 14 July.

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