Workers now earning less than in 2004
Responding to a report showing that the Irish construction sector experienced the highest rate of growth among 19 European countries last year, with the trend expected to continue up to 2017, trade union Unite today said that this growth must be reflected in workers’ pay. The union was commenting on the latest Euroconstruct figures.
Pointing out that mechanical workers have suffered pay cuts of up to 22% since 2011, Unite Regional Officer for Construction, Tom Fitzgerald, said the time had come for employers and unions to negotiate a new industry-wide agreement governing the mechanical contracting sector, registered in accordance with the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill currently before the Dail.
“In 2011, because of the continuing downturn in the industry, pay cuts of up to 22% were agreed on the basis that the MEBSCA agreement would be registered. The agreement was never registered – but since then MEBSCA company profits have increased while wages have continued to stagnate.
“In a sample of companies examined by Unite, operating profits doubled within just one year, between 2013 and 2014. Yet mechanical workers have had no pay increase since 2010, and the 2011 pay cuts mean that their pay is actually less than the MEBSCA rates in 2004.
“Earlier this month, Unite members working in the mechanical contracting sector demanded increases in the hourly rate of up to 9.5 percent, together with restoration of the one hour of travel money lost since 2011 and additional improvements to their terms and conditions. Given current growth and profit indications, these are very modest demands.
“Unite will be writing to the employers seeking engagement on an industry-wide agreement with universal application.
“A universal agreement governing the sector would benefit both workers and employers, ensuring that no employer is at a competitive disadvantage given the uniquely mobile nature of work in the construction industry”, Tom Fitzgerald concluded.