The fallout from the slide of Roadbridge, one of the country’s biggest civil engineering and construction firms, into receivership last week continues apace.
The plight of the 600-plus employees has been highlighted by a number of politicians. Fine Gael’s backbench TD Michael Ring noted that employees were being told that they should not apply to the Department of Social Protection for a period of 30 days or seek employment for the next 30 days as it may affect their redundancy entitlements.
Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on workers’ rights, called on the Government to ensure that those affected have access to social welfare supports, and where they wish to undertake new employment that they do not lose their redundancy entitlement as a result.
“Currently this is not the case, so these are simple changes the Minister for Social Protection (Heather Humphreys) and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment (Leo Varadkar) can do immediately,” she said.
Roadbridge has building contracts worth a total of €750 million over the next two to three years. It owes about €35 million to Bank of Ireland, but has trade liabilities said to be about €40 million, owed mostly to sub-contractors, suppliers and other businesses.
For the workers affected not being able to access income supports for a full month is a blow, especially at a time when the cost of living is soaring. Most of them probably won’t have the luxury of waiting around to see if the situation is resolved in their favour. Any change to the legislation might not come in time for the Roadbridge workers.
On the flip side, workers in the construction sector are currently in high demand given the steady ramp-up in house-building, a healthy flow of other building activity, and a shortage of certain skills in the industry.
And elements of the business might yet be saved.