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Jailing of building workers unjustifiable

10 February, 2006

Dún Laoghaire Sinn Féin representative Michael Nolan has described the jailing of three building workers following a protest at a building site in Ballybrack, Co. Dublin as an "unjustifiably harsh action" against what many will see as a legitimate protest and he called for their immediate release.

Ballybrack based Mr. Nolan said, "Much has been made in recent weeks of the problems of worker exploitation and displacement. And this would appear to be a classic manifestation of that problem. This building site is a public housing project. It is absolutely crucial that the local authority, in this case Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, ensures that proper and recognised rates and conditions of employment for building workers are being paid to all staff on the site.

"There is genuine concern that the company and subcontractors doing the work on this site are employing workers well below what are the standard terms of conditions of employment in the building industry today. The contractors have so far failed to address these concerns and the issue of trade union recognition. Local trades people who are available for work feel that they are being unjustly penalised and indeed not being taken on because they are not willing to accept anything less than the normal rates of pay for construction workers.

"This is a completely intolerable situation. The building of these houses is a crucial and urgent development as they are replacing council houses that were recently knocked down. It would be an absolute travesty if this project were delayed. The County Council needs to assert itself in this regard and demand that the company given the contract, Collen, and its subcontractors employ people on the standard rates of pay and conditions. That it failed to make this a condition of the tender is reprehensible and should serve as a lesson for any future tendering process.

"After all it is clear that the payment of exploitative wages to building workers has not brought down the cost of housing anywhere in this state. All it has done is ensured that the greedy developers accrue even more obscene wealth." ENDS

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