Luke Fitzpatrick and Gary Gleeson began their sit-in 200ft above the ground on Monday evening. They had been employed at the Kishoge site in Lucan by a subcontractor who, in turn, had been engaged by main contractor JJ Rhatigan.
Luke Fitzpatrick told RTÉ radio’s Liveline show the amount of work he had done on the project and the amount of money he had been paid amounted to an hourly rate of €4.90.
“This is a Government job,” he said, adding that the agreed craft rate was €17.21 per hour and that should be paid on a state contract.
“We are going to stay on the crane until the money is paid to the subcontractor so we can get paid,” he said. “We have brought about eight days worth of food up with us. We are going to stay up here as long as it takes. Even if the food runs out we will stay, even if we have to go on hunger strike.”
Unite trade union, which represents the men, said it did not sanction their action. Gardaí have closed down the site on health and safety grounds.
The union’s regional officer, Tom Fitzgerald, said it was “fully understandable, given their frustration not only at JJ Rhatigan’s continuing refusal to engage, but also at the provocative tactics employed by local Rhatigan management over the past number of weeks”.&
However, a spokesman for JJ Rhatigan said the firm rejected “as completely false” claims that workers are paid €5 an hour on the site. He said the 70 workers in Kishoge were all paid “the going rate” in full compliance with employment legislation and statutory obligations, and that an independent auditor engaged on behalf of the Department of Education failed to substantiate any of the allegations.
The company claimed the pickets, mounted since September 19, were placed by Unite following termination of a contract “when unacceptable levels of workmanship were rejected by the project manager acting on behalf of the company’s client”. It said the inferior workmanship was carried out by a small number of picketers.
Yesterday in the High Court, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Rhatigan’s permission to serve short service of proceedings against Unite, Patrick Molloy, Stephen Gleeson, and their company, Gleeson & Molloy Bricklaying Services, and several union members.
Rhatigans and related firms are seeking injunctions against the defendants restraining them from interfering with access and egress from several building sites, from trespassing or occupying the Kishoge site, and an order directing vacation of the site. The case continues.