Crane drivers to strike on Friday in dispute over claim for 10% pay rise
Protest also planned for outside head office of Construction Industry Federation
Striking crane drivers on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Crane drivers are set to strike on Friday and protest outside the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) offices in Dublin after talks on their claim for a 10 per cent pay rise ended inconclusively.
Crane operators represented by trade union Unite have been seeking a 10 per cent increase in their pay – currently about €20 an hour – for a number of weeks.
Unite confirmed that members will withdraw their labour on Friday, with a number of them taking part in a protest outside the CIF’s headquarters rather than picket sites operated by individual building contractors.
The union is targeting the federation’s offices as the organisation represents the companies for which the crane drivers work.
Unite deferred the industrial action for a week to allow talks on the issue to go ahead at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). However, those negotiations ended without a resolution on Thursday.
The union’s regional officer for construction, Tom Fitzgerald, described the failure to make progress as disappointing.
“Unite is especially disappointed that the CIF is continuing its attempt to introduce extraneous issues into a dispute that is essentially about the legitimate pay demands of our members,” he said.
According to Mr Fitzgerald, those issues included proposals from the Labour Court this week for a sectoral employment order, designed to replace the old construction industry registered employment agreement, which would not meet crane operators’ needs.
His statement suggested that the court’s proposals – which involve 10 per cent increases in hourly rates for different grades of building workers – could actually result in a 2.5 per cent loss for some groups.
The Labour Court recommended that grades including crane operators should get €18.36 an hour. The Oireachtas must approve the sectoral employment order before it can be applied.
Mr Fitzgerald argued that the point of the order was simply to set a legal floor on builders’ pay.
“Crane operators are getting about €20 an hour, we are saying that they should get a 10 per cent lift on that,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “There have already been similar payments made to mechanical grades, including plumbers and welders, and crane operators are comparable to them.”