8 June 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

BATU exposes breaches of employment law in Fingal

The Building and Allied Trade Union (BATU) has accused Derry based construction and engineering company EH Allingham of repeated breaches of the Registered Employment Agreement on a site in Balbriggan under contract from Fingal County Council.

Regional Organiser for BATU, Andrew Smith, told An Phoblacht that the company has refused requests to meet with the union despite being legally obliged to do so.

"We first wrote to Allingham on 11 April requesting a meeting and pointing to their obligations to meet us under the Registered Employment Agreement (REA)," he said. "They have refused to meet us on the grounds that they are not employing anyone on the site but they are continuing to use bricklaying sub-contractors who refuse to comply with the REA."

"These contractors are also acting illegally by not registering the workers' employed in the Pension Scheme. Simply assigning responsibility for this to the sub-contractors and washing their hands of it is unacceptable behaviour by Allingham, they have to realise they have a duty of care."

BATU has also written to Fingal County Manager John Tierney pointing out that the company is working on behalf of the Council and acting illegally. Mr Tierney's response has been nothing more than to write a letter to Allingham asking to confirm the allegations against them.

"The use of sub-contractors by companies to evade responsibility has to come to an end," said Mr Smith. "Three of our members worked on that site for three or four weeks without being paid by the sub-contractor hired by Allingham, and have still not been paid. When that sub-contractor left the site the new sub-contractors refused to hire those workers."

Investigation follows another workplace death

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Authority has confirmed to An Phoblacht that they have launched an investigation into the death a man in an industrial accident outside of Longford Town.

The man, who was involved in work on the site of a new car showroom, died after arriving in Mullingar General Hospital following a fall from a ladder on Monday.

This is the second death in as many weeks on construction sites following the death of a 55 year old man in Cork. Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment and Workers' Rights, Arthur Morgan T.D reiterated the party's demand for legislation to provide for the crime of Corporate Manslaughter as recommend by the Law Reform Commission:

"Reckless employers must be held criminally liable for workplace accidents and fatalities. Only by putting in place effective deterrents can we ensure that these needless deaths cease. Corporate Manslaughter legislation, already in place in many countries, is a key tool in the battle to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities."

Low paid civil servants revolt against union executive

Low paid civil servants are leading a revolt in the Civil and Public Sector Union (CPSU) over Government proposals to institute a new performance evaluation system. Amid angry scenes at the union's annual conference in April the union's excutive was condemned by delegates for agreeing to the new system, who succeeded in forcing through a motion calling for a ballot acceptance of the system.

As a result, the Department of Finance has withheld a pay increase due from the start of the month to 10,000 clerical officers of 2.5%. The Department argues that the union has already signed up to the new system under the most recent Partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress, and that a refusal would call into question the agreed pay increases contained in that agreement.

While the union's executive has called for members to support the system and insisted that there was no possibility of renegotiations, rank and file members are concerned the new system will result in a 'pushing down' of pay increments.

The result of the ballot is expected on 16 June.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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