WORK is expected to grind to a halt on construction sites next month as electricians prepare to mount strike action after employers last week demanded a 10pc cut in hourly rates.
The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) will ballot its members for industrial action on February 7.
Any strike will cause widespread disruption across the sector, and is likely to result in large manufacturing plants being forced to close and no new construction projects going ahead, TEEU spokesman Eamon Devoy said.
He said workers were not seeking additional increases, but that its 6,500 members were not prepared to accept pay cuts at a time when a 2009 Labour Court recommendation that rises of 4.9pc be paid following previous strike action had not been implemented.
"This (strike action) is going to happen, there's no doubt about it," he said.
"We met the employers last Thursday and they said they wanted a 10pc pay cut immediately and, if we didn't agree to it, they would tender for work and pay whatever price they could.
"We can't countenance that. We have no claim on the employer at the moment. We want the same arrangements to remain in place."
The move follows a Supreme Court ruling last May which struck out Registered Employment Agreements, where the pay for construction specialists was set at agreed levels between employers and unions, as unconstitutional.
It meant unions and employers are now involved in further negotiations over pay rates, but no agreement has been reached, which has prompted the threat of industrial action.