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Boost for builders as new pay rates system in pipeline

A NEW system for agreeing pay rates for skilled craftspeople and construction workers will be drawn up by the 
Government.

The new form of Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) comes after the Supreme Court declared the old system of setting wages and conditions for workers in certain sectors was unconstitutional.

The judgment last year was significant as it affected several employment sectors.

The court ruled such agreements delegated law-making powers beyond the Oireachtas.

The court said the agreements "passed unmistakably into the field of legislation which was the sole preserve of the Oireachtas."

The previous legislation dated back to the 1940s and had covered up to 300,000 workers.

The workers covered before the collapse of the system included drapery, footwear and allied trades, the construction industry, printing, electrical contracting, contract cleaning and overhead power-line 
contractors.

As a result, the Government had to draft new laws to cover the area.

order

Unions and employers will be able to the apply to the Labour Court to start a review of pay, pension or sick pay terms of workers in a particular sector. Recommendations can then be made to the minister to make an order.

But the new system also allows for flexibility to react to a changed economic climate or how the sector is made up.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the new REAs will provide certainty for staff and businesses tendering for contracts, promote industrial peace, and ensure firms are not placed at competitive disadvantage.

"It is also crucial to ensure that these systems do not become rigid, and do not become an impediment to job-creation.

"We have put in place a series of new safeguards to ensure that employer and employee bodies are substantially representative, to provide for reviews of obligations in response to changing economic circumstances, and to ensure that they do not become a factor that causes the collapse of firms," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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