The union said the workers — mainly Polish but also Lithuanian — employed at Liam Scott Construction are earning far below the minimum construction wage and that the Irish workers employed are also getting less than they are entitled to.
The situation came to SIPTU’s notice when the workers tried to join the union. The union says it verified the workers’ claims with the aid of translators.
Noel Kilfeather of SIPTU’s West of Ireland Construction branch said the rates of pay are “dramatically out of line” and as low as €5.
“The Irish workers are getting more than that but are also lower than the regulation,” he said.
“This is a workforce who are not receiving any of the benefits in the Construction Industry Agreement.
“These men are not covered by a pension scheme and do not get sick pay. The company is in contravention of labour law.”
The current rates under the Construction Industry Federation guidelines are €16.85 per hour for craft workers and €13.48 for unskilled workers, but these will rise to €17.70 and €14.16 in October 2006 according to Mr Kilfeather.
He described the approach of the company as “unparalleled arrogance.”
However, Liam Scott Construction, through its solicitor, Peter Flynn of Clarke and Flynn, said they are adhering to all of the agreements and are paying at least the minimum wages under the registered agreements.
“It is properly paying all its staff,” the legal representative said.
Mr Kilfeather said the union has written to the company and made site visits but had no response.
He said the next step was to bring in a third party, Congress, to mediate in the dispute and if that did not resolve the issue they would look at further action.
Mr Kilfeather said it was ironic the issue had arisen as today there would be the probable ratification of Towards 2016, a key facet of which is compliance with labour law.
Liam Scott Construction, based in Dromore West, Co Sligo, has built housing developments in the Dromore West, Enniscrone, Easkey and Ballina areas.