November 30th: Irish construction firm JJ Rhatigan & Co’s plans to expand their operations into the UK came under fire today (Sunday 30 November) from Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who warned that attempts to import their ‘shoddy employment practices’ to the UK would not be tolerated.
Eighteen Unite members are now in their tenth week of an official dispute at the JJ Rhatigan & Co school building site at Kishoge Community College in Lucan,outside Dublin, a project funded by the Republic’s Department of Education.
Due to the complex system of subcontracting operated by the company, these workers have been forced into bogus self-employment, earning less than €5 (£4) per hour. That is less than Ireland’s national minimum wage, and less than a third of the agreed industry rate for the job.
Earlier this week, Irish secretary Jimmy Kelly led a Unite delegation to the Republic’s minister for education, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan, and impressed on her that public funds must not be used to underwrite JJ Rhatigan & Co’s bad practices and abuses of workers’ rights by awarding them further public contracts.
Commenting, Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite is putting JJ Rhatigan and Co on notice: you are not simply dealing with eighteen workers on a construction site in Ireland. You are dealing with 1.4 million Unite members throughout these islands, with all the resources that implies.
“Unite is determined to put an end to JJ Rhatigan’s shoddy employment practices in Ireland – and we will not tolerate any attempt to import those practices to the UK.”