Rhatigan: Unite welcomes Dept of Social Protection finding that workers were employed

unite-white-out-of-redDecision means workers entitled to range of PRSI benefits

Unite determined to continue fighting scourge of bogus self-employment

September 1st: Unite today  welcomed the finding by the Department of Social Protection’s Scope section that members working on a JJ Rhatigan site at Kishoge Community College last year were employed by the company, and were not self-employed sub-contractors as had been claimed by Rhatigan. The workers’ employment status was at the heart of a five month dispute which only ended in January of this year following a Labour Court finding that the workers’ rights had been breached.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer for Construction, Tom Fitzgerald, said:

“Not only does the Department of Social Protection finding vindicate the workers’ assertion that they were employed by JJ Rhatigan – it also means that the company will be liable for Employers’ PRSI for the period in question, covering the workers for a range of entitlements such as Jobseeker’s Benefit and Illness Benefit.

“While we welcome the Department’s finding, it is disappointing that it took nearly a year for them to investigate the case and issue a decision – despite the fact that, when the issue first arose, we were advised by the Minister to seek redress through the Department’s Scope section. Justice delayed is justice denied, and if we had relied on that advice – rather than taking industrial action – our members would have had a long wait for justice. The Government must ensure that Scope is properly resourced in order to investigate issues and make decisions in a timely manner.

“The Rhatigan case was a particularly flagrant example of bogus self-employment: The company used a complex web of sub-contracting in a bid to insulate itself from its responsibilities as an employer. Not only did this result in the workers earning less than €5 per hour on a Government-funded contact – it also meant that they lost out on their PRSI entitlements.

“Essentially, the workers were earning less than the Minimum Wage and were also denied the ‘social wage’ funded by Employers’ PRSI.

“Thanks to collective action, their rights have been vindicated first by the Labour Court and now by the Department of Social Protection.

“Unite is determined to continue fighting the scourge of bogus self-employment in the construction industry”, Tom Fitzgerald continued.

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