New minimum pay rates for more than 50,000 construction workers will come into force from February 1st, under plans announced on Monday.
Under the new minimum rates, approved by Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Employment Damien English, workers can also expect pay increases in February 2023, of just under 3 per cent.
According to the new scales a craftsperson will be paid at least €20.52 per hour from next February, increasing to €21.09 an hour from February 1st, 2023.
A “category A” worker – such as a heavy machine operator or scaffolder with four years’ experience – must be paid at least €19.91 per hour, increasing to €20.47 from February 2023.
A “category B” worker – or skilled general operative with more than two years’ experience – will be paid a minimum of €18.47, going up to €18.99.
Apprentices will be entitled to 33 per cent of the craft rates in the first year, 50 per cent in their second, 75 per cent in their third and 90 per cent in their fourth.
These will be set out in a sectoral employment order (SEO) to be brought to the Oireachtas by Mr English "in coming weeks", his department said.
Rates are also set in the recommendation from the Labour Court for pension contributions by employers and workers and for sick-pay schemes to which all workers in workplaces subject to these rates are entitled.
The new rates come into force following an application to the court by five trade unions in the sector – Unite; Opatsi, which represents plasters; the Bricklayers and Allied Trades Union; Siptu; and Connect, which represents electricians and technicians – for a review of pay.
Supreme Court ruling
This followed a Supreme Court ruling in June upholding the constitutionality of provisions in the Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2015 for the making of SEOs.
The timings and the increases recommended by the court strike a balance between the demands of unions and employers. While the former had sought increases of 4.4 per cent and for the new rates to come into force this month, employers had asked that increases be struck considerably lower, at 1.6 per cent, and for the orders to apply from next April.
Commenting on the new rates, Mr English said they represented “an important step in securing stability and growth in this crucial sector of the Irish economy”.
“This order will protect the working conditions of workers in the construction sector; will underpin continued good relations between workers and employers in the sector; and will help maintain the attractiveness of this sector as a viable career option,” he said.
“The recommendation is the third such recommendation from the Labour Court in the construction sector. The recommendation, if approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, will take effect by means of an SEO, and will amend Statutory Instrument 234 of 2019.”