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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Irish Water contractors paying staff less than agreed rate

Paul Melia, Environment Correspondent

Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30

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John Tierney, Managing Director, Irish Water.
John Tierney, Managing Director, Irish Water

COMPANIES installing water meters have been caught paying their workers below agreed rates.

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Irish Water said that auditors had identified a "low number" of cases where workers were being paid lower hourly rates than those agreed with trade unions in advance of the metering programme beginning last August.

It said that up to 25 workers were affected, and that it would continue to carry out spot-checks at sites across the country. "Twenty to 25 workers are involved in potential incidents of non-compliance," a spokeswoman said. The admission came after trade union SIPTU claimed that as many as 500 workers could be affected in sites in Dublin city and county, Meath, Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford and Mayo.

"We've been visiting the sites and speaking to workers," SIPTU spokesman Pat McCabe said. "This is something we've been working on to ensure that workers on the installation programme are getting the entitlements they were due. The understanding was the rates of pay would be that arising from the registered agreements in the construction sector."

He said that experienced construction workers should receive a minimum of €15.14 an hour. Some, he claimed, were receiving up to €3 less per hour worked. There were also issues about overtime not being paid at premium rates, no sick pay schemes being in place and workers not being included in pension schemes.

"It is up to Irish Water to ensure the contractors comply with those terms and conditions," Mr McCabe said. "There is a certain level of a fear factor. Irish Water are saying that as far as they're concerned, they don't recognise it's a problem. They are carrying out audits and said everything is okay. We don't believe that's the case."

Details about one specific sub-contractor had been given to Irish Water in the last 10 days, SIPTU said.

In a statement, Irish Water said it was "fully engaged" with SIPTU officials on a monthly basis and that workers would be paid in line with the construction industry registered agreements.

'COMPLIANT'

"Irish Water is satisfied that our contractors are currently compliant with all of the contract terms in relation to pay and conditions."

But it added: "Our auditing process has identified a low number of incidents of noncompliance. When this has happened, contractors were given a short timeframe to become fully compliant and Irish Water continues to work with the contractors to investigate and rectify any issues."

The identity of the offending companies or sub-contractors at the centre of the allegations have not been disclosed.

Irish Independent

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