However, Danny Hogan, of Cork-based TJM, said he was prepared to pay his workers out of his own pocket and had arranged to borrow E50,000 from a bank to do so. Five blocklayers, members of the Building and Allied Trades’ Union (BATT), started their protest at the E27m Parklands development in the centre of Tralee on Wednesday, claiming they had not been paid since before Christmas. The group of workers includes 14 Poles, most of whom have returned to Cork.
TJM is a sub-contractor for the main developer on the site, Pierce Construction. Mr Hogan yesterday acknowledged the men were due a number of weeks’ wages and said he was going to give them cheques. “I’ve no more money and I’ve told them that, but I have arranged to borrow from the bank to pay them.”
Pierce Construction insisted that it paid TJM for work done and maintained it was then the responsibility of TJM to pay its workers with that money. A Pierce Construction spokesman said they sympathised with the workers and would be putting pressure on TJM to meet its financial obligations to the workers.
However, Cork-based BATT official Frank Buckley said Pierce Construction, as the main contractor on the site, was ultimately responsible for its sub-contractors and should ensure the workers got their wages and other entitlements.
“The name over the door is where the buck stops,” he argued. “This has been happening in a number of locations since December. It happened in a job in Cork where money was drawn from a main contractor, but was not paid to workers.”
Anton McCabe, of SIPTU’s Anti-Racism Group, referred to the plight of overseas building workers employed in this country and claimed many were paid only the minimum wage. He said there had been instances where employers left Irish workers go and then took on several non-nationals at far lower rates of pay.
Mr McCabe also said some sub-contractors were treating their workers, both Irish and non-national, with contempt and were not complying with regulations on matters such as tax, pensions and sick pay.