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Oireachtas members call on Irish Cement to pay workers

2 May, 2012 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams today hosted a meeting in the Dáil for Irish Cement workers from Castlemungret in County Limerick and Platin in County Meath.

Trade union representatives from SIPTU, UNITE and the TEEU along with workers from both plants attended the briefing for TDs and Seanadoirí organised by the Sinn Féin leader.

Workers at the Irish cement Ltd plants in Castlemungret and Platin have been on strike since 3 April 2012. The workers are protesting at the refusal of Irish Cement to honour a Labour Court recommendation on monies which the company owes to the workers.

The Labour Court recommended that the company should pay its staff money owed to them for 2011. It also said that if the company was making a loss that discussions would recommence at a later point in relation to pay.

The Louth TD said: “It is unacceptable that Irish Cement should refuse to honour its obligations by demanding that workers first agree to a cut in pay of between 15% and 18%. This was not part of the Labour Court recommendation. I would urge the Minister to become directly involved in seeking to resolve this dispute.”

Speaking after the meeting Teachta Adams said:
“There was cross party support for the workers among the 16 TDs and Seanadoirí who attended today’s briefing by the workers in the Dáil. TDs also discussed the possibility of establishing a cross party group to support the workers in this dispute.

All of those who spoke acknowledged the positive efforts in recent years of the unions and workers to be constructive and pragmatic in negotiations on new terms and conditions.

The decision by Irish Cement and its parent company the CRH group of companies, to flout the Labour Court recommendations undermines good industrial relations at the plants and denies this group of workers their just entitlements.

This company is part of a multi-million global multi-national. It pays its Chief Executive more in bonuses and pension contributions in a year than it would cost to pay all 100 employees of Irish Cement who are on strike.
The behaviour of Irish Cement also exposes the weaknesses in the current industrial relations legislations to protect workers. This is particularly true in respect of Labour Court recommendations which are not binding on participants.

In recent time we have witnessed a large number of companies arbitrarily paying off workers or denying them wages or redundancy payments. It is clear that some employers are deliberately using the current recession as an opportunity to avoid their responsibilities.

There is an onus on the government, particularly one with a Labour component, to introduce strong legislation to protect workers.
Oireachtas members at today meeting will be looking to establish as quickly as possible an all-party group and will be seeking an early meeting with the Management of Irish Cement.”

Note to Editor:
Irish Cement is part of the multi-billion euro CRH group of companies which was formed in 1970 following a merger between Cement Limited and Roadstone, Limited.
Today it is one of the biggest international companies in the building business. It currently employs over 70,000 people in 36 countries and made an operating profit of €871 million last year.
Those who attended the Oireachtas meeting were:
Hosted by Gerry Adams TD (SF Louth)
Gerald Nash TD (Lab Louth)
Kieran O Donnell TD (FG Limerick)
Willie O Dea TD (FF Limerick)
Niall Collins TD (FF Limerick)
Senator David Cullinane (SF Waterford) (SF Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights)
Jan O Sullivan TD (Lab Limerick)
Dominic Hannigan TD (Lab Meath)
Peadar Tobin TD (SF Meath)
Peter Fitzpatrick TD (FG Louth)
Senator Jim Darcy (FG Louth)
Regina Doherty TD (FG Meath)
Patrick O Donovan TD (FG Limerick)
Senator Thomas Byrne (FF Meath)
Fergus O Dowd TD (FG Louth)
Micheal Colreavy TD (SF Sligo/North Leitrim)
And a Staffer from Michael Noonan’s office also attended.

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