Building firm takes action against union over injuries

BUILDING company Collen Construction is preparing to take legal action against BATU, the bricklayers union, for alleged intimidation and injury against employees at a number of its sites.

Leo Crehan, director of Collen, confirmed the company is to proceed with its High Court action in the New Year.

It is alleging a BATU official and members of the union trashed one of its sites, damaged property and attempted to force an apprentice off a ladder.

In his affidavit Mr Crehan also claims that at a building site a large number of BATU members trespassed and knocked a health and safety officer to the ground.

It is claimed that in a melee he was kicked on the ground and suffered severe injuries.

A construction industry source said that the activities of BATU were giving cause for concern not just among the building trade but also at senior level within the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

BATU denies any wrongdoing and its general secretary, Paddy O’Shaughnessy insisted that neither his union nor his members had done anything illegal.

However, over the past several months five other builders have also been given injunctions restraining BATU and its members from picketing their sites.

It is understood that some of the other six unions who represent workers in the sector are becoming concerned that the alleged robust tactics which are being used by BATU are nothing more than a blatant attempt to win more membership from other unions and to gain control of the sector, which has about 54,000 members in various unions.

Mr O’Shaughnessy has denied any wrongdoing by the union in any shape or form.

BATU has agreed to be bound by the injunction.

He said BATU had “no problem” with the injunction because neither the union nor any of its members was ever engaged in any illegal activity in the first instance.

However, Mr Crehan hit back last night and said the company has video evidence with which it can back up its claims.

In his ruling, injuncting BATU, Mr Justice Lavan issued instructions preventing the union or its people associated with the union from watching, disrupting or picketing sites at Park Motors, Tolka Valley Road, Clane Road and two sites in Kildare and Wicklow.

Mr Justice Smyth commented in the High Court that this was no way to conduct industrial relations business in the 21st century when he granted the interim injunction against BATU and named defendants on November 7, 2002.

Mr Justice Lavan said such lawlessness could not be tolerated when he confirmed the injunction against persons unknown on November 28, 2002.

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