The court will also use the week-long hearing to decide whether to use its powers to grant the pay increase of €1.05 per hour, or 5%.
For a number of years, the pay increase for the sector was decided under REA by talks between the Technical Electrical and Engineering Union (TEEU) in cooperation with two employer bodies, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Association of Electrical Contractors in Ireland (AECI). However a new body, the National Electrical Contractors Ireland argues the REA should be cancelled, because the parties to it are no longer representative of the industry.
In a boost to its campaign in November the AECI officially changed its position on the variation order and opposed the pay increase along with the two newer employer groupings.
TEEU will argue the rise should go ahead because the increase was due on April 1 when the economic climate was more favourable and reflected increases in other areas of the economy. If the decision goes against the union it would have implications for hundreds of thousands of workers whose employment is governed by REAs.
TEEU has said it would look at strike action in the event the REA is struck down.