Bricklayers’ union to hold agm during work day despite members’ protests

Workers call for meeting to be rescheduled for evening so more can participate

Spokesman for builder’s union BATU says meeting will  go ahead as planned ‘at lunch hour’ when, he said, members will be ‘on their lunch break’. Photograph: iStock

Spokesman for builder’s union BATU says meeting will go ahead as planned ‘at lunch hour’ when, he said, members will be ‘on their lunch break’. Photograph: iStock

 

The national bricklayers branch of the builders’ union, Building and Allied Trades Union (BATU), says it will press ahead with its agm at lunchtime on Wednesday despite protests from members that most will be unable to attend as they will be working on sites.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the first agm held during working hours and by Zoom, amounting to the “union leadership excluding the members”, says sixth-generation bricklayer Liam O’Brien.

He was among about 40 members and supporters who handed in a letter of protest on Monday evening calling for the meeting, the first in two years, to be held during the evening “as has traditionally been our custom to prepare and allow us to take an active part in the proceedings and discussions after our day’s work”.

A spokesman for the disgruntled members told The Irish Times: “The lads feel they are losing access to the union at a time when there is huge demand for our skills. Bogus self-employment is one of the massive issues for members we want to have a full discussion on.”

In the letter to Martin Malone, general secretary of BATU, the members say: “We feel the time of 1pm to 2pm is not an appropriate time for the annual general meeting of the branch to be held, firstly, as there has been no provisions made with employers to allow members to attend during our working day.

“Some members do not have access to Zoom or even the internet, [and] no alternative arrangements have been made to accommodate these members.”

They say there has “never” been an hour time limit on an agm. “Surely after two absent years of finances, motions and reports, one hour is not sufficient to carry out the order of business.”

Breach

Calling on Mr Malone to step in and ensure the meeting is held in the evening, they say the planned time amounts to a breach of union rules that state the presiding officer must “ensure that any member wishing to address a meeting which they are entitled to attend, is given a fair opportunity of doing so without interruption.

“We hope your intervention will be prompt as we feel the postponement of the annual general meeting to a more suitable time will allow more member participation, something we would expect for our €520 annual subscription.”

A spokesman for BATU said many of Monday night’s protesters were not union members, adding the meeting would go ahead as planned “at lunch hour” when, he said, members would be “on their lunch break”.

Mr O’Brien said, however, members were taking lunch breaks at “scattered” times throughout the day to assist with social distancing requirements during the pandemic.