Builders facing a 7.5pc pay cut before Christmas
Published 02/12/2010 | 05:00
STRUGGLING construction workers face the threat of a 7.5pc pay cut before Christmas.
Employers have written to the Labour Court asking it to rubberstamp the wage reduction, which the court recommended last July.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) asked the court to give its members the go-ahead to start slashing wages after failing to secure union agreement yesterday.
But the court may wait for unions to give their verdict next Wednesday before it makes a decision.
Sources last night revealed that the pay cut is likely to become a new norm as many unions are recommending it to members due to the collapse of the sector.
It has been rejected by the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union but the largest construction union -- SIPTU -- is recommending it.
The CIF had given the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Construction Industry Committee, made up of seven unions, a deadline yesterday to accept the cut. Otherwise, it warned it would ask the court to register the pay cut.
If the court refuses to do this, it has threatened to walk away from the existing agreement that sets pay rates and employment conditions for the sector, known as a Registered Employment Agreement.
But the ICTU's Construction Industry Committee said the federation's deadline meant nothing to it.
"We've made it clear to the CIF that it'll have a result from us on December 8," said Fergus Whelan of ICTU.
SIPTU's Christy McQuillan also said it was ignoring the employers' move.
The union is recommending the pay cut to members who are currently balloting.
"The CIF arbitrarily set a date for a decision," he said. "I think the court will respect the timeframe we needed to consult members."
If unions accept the pay cut, it will be registered by the court and the existing legally binding Registered Employment Agreement will be amended.
The CIF sought the cuts in light of the collapse of the construction and property sector, arguing that employers could not afford existing rates.
It accepted the court's recommendation, although it originally sought a 20pc pay cut.
A pay cut would be another blow to construction workers, following a haemorrhage of jobs in the sector.