Archaeologists have downed trowels in the first of a threatened series of nationwide work stoppages sparked by a row between their union and the company which employs them.

Archaeologists have downed trowels in the first of a threatened series of nationwide work stoppages sparked by a row between their union and the company which employs them.

Archaeologists, who are members of the union Unite, stopped work along the proposed Macroom bypass claiming the company employing them had refused to engage on wage increases.

They are contracted by Irish Archaeological Consultancy (IAC), the largest company of its type in the country.

Archaeologists picketed two sites they are currently working on and held a rally in Macroom to highlight their grievances.


Unite said IAC contacted its members working on the bypass project last Friday to give them a week’s notice of termination of employment.

The union’s regional coordinating officer, Richie Browne, said despite enjoying healthy and growing profits, IAC has refused to discuss a pay claim with its workers collectively.

“IAC’s treatment of its workers reached a new low last week when they issued the workers concerned with a week’s notice of termination of employment, claiming that the archaeological works in question were coming to an end,” he said.

“Unite regards this as, at best, a stunning coincidence, and at worst an example of the most blatant union-busting tactics.”

An IAC spokesman said that last spring Unite circulated a letter throughout the commercial archaeology sector seeking additional increases in pay rates.

He claimed IAC have been offering salary packages on projects, at or up to 4% above those rates and that the company communicated this position to the Workplace Relations Commission on May 11.

He said Rubicon Heritage, the main archaeological contractor on the Macroom bypass, informed IAC on June 28 that its work would be completed over the following week and workers would no longer be required on the project after Friday, July 6, and they had communicated this to archaeologists.

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