Pay-row road crew in threat to dig up M7
WORKERS have threatened to dig up sections of the Dublin-to-Limerick motorway this morning unless they are paid up to €6,000 each owed in back wages.
Up to 50 sub-contractors have not been paid since November 1 last and yesterday began picketing the site.
The new 36km road is the final stretch of the national motorway network, and was due to open last week.
But a dispute between Laois County Council and the National Roads Authority (NRA), which is funding the project, and the main contractor Bowen Somague, has resulted in workers being owed tens of thousands of euro, with no resolution in sight.
Earlier this year Bowen Somague was awarded €26m in a dispute resolution process for extra work done on the road.
The money was due to be paid by Laois County Council, but the award is being appealed.
The council could pay the money now, but says it wants a bond to be put in place to ensure the return of the money should it win on appeal.
But Bowen Somague said that until it was paid, the sub-contractors would not receive their money.
This was a condition of the contract.
Workers yesterday said they were facing a Christmas with no money.
"If we don't have a resolution by close of business we're going to start digging back up what we put into this job," one man said.
"I'll get my machine operational first thing in the morning and start digging.
"It possibly would be (a crime), but we have to get some resolution at this stage," he added.
The NRA said the dispute was a matter between Bowen and its sub-contractors, and that it was "deeply concerned" about Bowen's refusal to pay.