Labour Court backs 10% pay rise for construction workers

New industry wide sectoral employment order will set minimum pay rates if approved by Oireachtas

Building workers could see their wages rise by 10 per cent if the Oireachtas approves a Labour Court recommendation on pay in the industry.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Building workers could see their wages rise by 10 per cent if the Oireachtas approves a Labour Court recommendation on pay in the industry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Building workers could see their wages rise by 10 per cent if the Oireachtas approves a Labour Court recommendation on pay in the industry.

The court has recommended a series of new minimum pay rates for skilled and unskilled workers in construction to Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Frances Fitzgerald.

If the Dáil and Seanad approve the recommendation, it will result in 10 per cent pay rises for about 50,000 building workers.

The court is recommending that: general operatives with more than one year’s experience get €17.04 an hour; skilled operatives such as crane drivers, scaffolders and heavy machine operators get €18.36 an hour; and craft workers get €18.93 an hour.

It also states that apprentices should start on one third of the full craft rate rising to 90 per cent of that in their fourth year, while new entrant general workers should get €13.77 an hour.

The recommendation is the first under a framework introduced two years ago called a sectoral employment order. This will replace the Registered Employment Agreements that governed builders’ pay until the Supreme Court struck them down as unconstitutional in 2013.

Under the new system, the minister considers the recommendation which must then get Oireachtas approval before it can be applied.

Dispute

It comes against the background of a dispute with crane drivers, who want increases to €24 an hour from this month, €27 from January 1st 2018 and €30 from January 1st 2019.

The Construction Industry Federation, which applied to the Labour Court for the sectoral employment order, welcomed the recommendation but expressed disappointment at the level of pay rises involved.

Director general Tom Parlon noted that the order should bring stability and predictability to labour costs, benefitting contractors that are bidding for work.

“We are facing an unprecedented housing crisis and a major infrastructure deficit,” he said. “It’s essential that labour costs in the industry are as predictable and competitive as possible to ensure value for money in the delivery of construction activity to public and private sector clients.”

Mr Parlon added that there was an onus on Government to ensure that other costs, including electricity, insurance, regulation and tax were examined and cut where possible.

“Finally, we repeat our call for Government to increase infrastructure investment in the regions to stimulate activity and to benefit regional economies,” he said.