Crane operators to hold second day of industrial action

Dozens of operators to protest over pay and safety concerns with pickets at four key sites

The new stoppages come after crane operators staged a demonstration at the offices of the Construction Industry Federation last Friday

The new stoppages come after crane operators staged a demonstration at the offices of the Construction Industry Federation last Friday

 

Crane operators at up to 100 sites across Ireland are to stop work again on Thursday as a dispute over pay ramps up.

Dozens of crane operators are due to take part in a second day of industrial action with pickets and protests planned at four key Dublin sites, including Capital Dock, a landmark development that is being built on the south docks by Jon Sisk on behalf of Kennedy Wilson.

The stoppages come after crane operators staged a demonstration at the offices of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) last Friday. The action took place after talks at the Workplace Relations Commission on their claim for a 10 per cent pay rise ended without a resolution last week.

The Labour Court has recommended that construction grades, including crane operators, should get €18.36 an hour.

According to Tom Fitzgerald, a union organiser with Unite, which represents more than 90 per cent of crane operators in Ireland, further stoppages are likely across the country in the coming weeks.

Impasse

“There is a bit of an impasse and I don’t see the dispute resolving itself anytime soon,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

The situation is complicated by a dispute among unions themselves after an Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) disputes committee last week upheld a number of complaints tabled by Siptu in a row with Unite over the alleged poaching of crane operators as members.

Mr Fitzgerald said Unite would prefer to work with Siptu to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. However, he said he did not know if Siptu held similar views.

“At this stage I don’t think money is the issue for employers. They want to have an holistic agreement which includes all players,” he said.

CIF, the Irish construction industry’s representative body, criticised what it called the “ongoing irresponsible strike action unlawfully served on some of its members.”

Director general Tom Parlon said critical projects could be under threat as construction costs mount due to the stoppages.

Concerns

“Our members are reporting concerns amongst their clients about this dispute and Ireland’s industrial relations environment. Unite’s actions are now threatening Ireland’s reputation for being an excellent place to do business and to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) said Mr Parlon.

“If this unlawful and irresponsible action continues, it will make it impossible for our contractors to operate, tender for work and ultimately puts construction jobs at risk,” he added.

In addition to the planned pickets on Thursday, members of Unite will also hold a demo outside the headquarters of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) on James Joyce Street in Dublin to highlight safety concerns.

Mr Fitzgerald said there were concerns that workers are being issued with crane operator certificates without fulfilling the relevant training and experience criteria.