Siptu and Unite reach deal on representing crane operators

Unions to run rule over number of operators who are members of each union and of both

The trade unions Siptu and Unite have reached an agreement on a long-running dispute over who should represent crane operators in the construction sector.

The move follows a row last year in which Siptu complained that Unite had taken into its membership a number of crane operators who traditionally had come within its sphere of influence.

This complaint over alleged poaching of crane operators was upheld by a disputes committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions last summer.

Under the deal reached between Siptu general secretary Joe O’Flynn and Unite leader Len McCluskey, a senior official in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will validate the number of crane operators who are members of each union and those who are members of both.


Siptu and Unite agreed – as part of the new deal – to the principle of “what we have, we hold” for those who were members of one of the unions.

However, when the assessment of the numbers of dual members who are in both unions is completed, the deal calls for the crane operators concerned to be sent – simultaneously from both organisations – a letter asking them to select the union of their choice.

Both unions will then seek a legally binding registered employment agreement with employers governing terms and conditions for crane operators by August 31st next.

Such an agreement would cover six areas: scope, discipline and grievance procedure; variation of the agreement; greasing allowances; normal working week; and overtime applications.

In relation to representation of general operatives within the construction sector the Siptu-Unite agreement notes that there “does not appear to be any easy solution”.

The two unions are to ask former chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy to examine all the issues involved and make recommendations to both organisations.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent