By Gordon Deegan
The Labour Court has rejected a pay claim of 5% for thousands of construction workers. The rejection follows the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) telling the Labour Court that “contractors simply can’t afford any further increases in labour costs at this time”.
The industry group said the pay claim from Ictu followed ‘a mere four months” after a deal for workers in the sector.
The so-called sectoral employment order (SEO) provides for craft workers to be paid €18.93 per hour and general operatives with more than one year’s experience to be paid €17.04 per hour.
The CIF also said the rates for craftspeople working in construction were considerably higher than their counterparts in the public sector. In response to the pay claim, the Labour Court stated that “having so recently made a recommendation on pay in the sector, the court is unable, less than five months after the passing into law of the SEO, to re-visit that matter”.
The Labour Court said it cannot recommend concession of this aspect of the claim. However, the court recommends that, in the interest of good industrial relations, the employer side should agree to the making of a once-off voucher payment of €300 to each worker covered by the current SEO.
The court said: “That voucher payment should be made on the 12-month anniversary date of the coming into law of the current SEO.” Ictu was also seeking the Labour Court recommend a travel allowance of one hour pay per day to be paid to each worker in the sector.
However, in response, the CIF stated that “for the majority of workers, travel allowances have not been paid in the construction industry for several years”. The CIF said: “To re-introduce an allowance now, at a time when there have been significant increases in labour costs, is not sustainable.”
In relation to the claim for travel, the court said it was unable to identify the degree to which travel time is currently paid in the industry, albeit the employer side submitted that it is paid in only a small number of instances.