September 24th: The current dispute at the JJ Rhatigan site in Lucan highlights the economic impact of a race to the bottom in the construction sector according to trade union Unite. The union has calculated the economic impact and effect on the Exchequer of the situation whereby eighteen bricklayers forced into bogus self-employment have been earning €5 per hour on the site – well below the Minimum Wage – as opposed to the agreed industry rate of €17.21 per hour.
Over the course of a year, Unite estimates that – were the workers properly employed and paid the industry rate – an extra €319,000 would flow into the cash registers of businesses. By the same token, the Exchequer would gain nearly 160,000 in tax revenue (income tax, USC and employers’/employees’ PRSI).
Commenting, Unite Regional officer Tom Fitzgerald said:
“By refusing to employ their workers subject to proper terms and conditions, and instead resorting to a bogus self-employment system, JJ Rhatigan are not only abusing the workers concerned – they are also damaging our economy and society. This dispute highlights the economic impact of a race to the bottom – a race in which no-one is a winner.”
Unite Research Officer Michael Taft said:
“In microcosm, this case illustrates how rogue employers are able to externalise costs. All of us suffer from the reduction in consumer spending and tax revenue due to the low pay the workers suffer. In effect, JJ Rhatigan & Co are asking the rest of us to subsidise their shoddy employment practices”, Michael Taft concluded.