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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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Archaeology firm denies workers' dispute - accuses union of 'trying to disrupt employees' lives'

The company said it is already paying staff more than the union recently agreed with another archaeology firm.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE ARCHAEOLOGY FIRM at the centre of an industrial relations row with the trade union Unite has denied it is in dispute with its workers, or that they are unfairly paid.

There have been a number of strike days at sites in Dublin and Cork in recent weeks as workers demand an improvement in pay. The Irish Archaeological Consultancy (IAC) has rejected requests by Unite to engage in negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The company said this is because it is already paying more than the union has negotiated in a recent deal with another company.

“IAC is not in dispute with its employees; it is in disagreement with a third-party, the trade union Unite – an organisation with its own interests which is endeavouring to disrupt the working lives of our employees and our company,” Rob Lynch, managing director of the company told TheJournal.ie.

“IAC have communicated this, as well as the fact the company is paying in excess of the Unite pay claim, on a number of occasions to the WRC.”

He claimed the firm is paying archaeologists 7% more than a pay claim by Unite in February this year and that its rates exceed those in an agreement reached between the union and another major commercial archaeology company.

On all new projects IAC are paying our archaeologists 10% more than the rate recently negotiated by Unite, on behalf their members, and this other company. On all new projects IAC are currently paying our archaeologists 5.3% more than Unite members will get paid by the end of 2020 under the rates recently negotiated between Unite and this other company.

‘Badly paid’

Unite has said its members’ contracts currently stipulate an hourly wage of €12.50 and that rates do not take into account the precarious nature of the job. 

“I don’t think people realise – when you tell people you’re an archaeologist they say ‘oh wow, great job’. People just presume, they don’t know that it’s really badly paid, you’re out there in this weather,” Jean O’Dowd, Unite archaeology branch chair said last week.

The Portmarnock crowd are finishing today and they only found that out last week, so they had a week’s notice to find a new job. That’s constant and that’s not taken into consideration in pay.

O’Dowd said the industrial action will continue.

A clear pathway

Lynch said it introduced a new career development structure in August this year to offer “a clear pathway to employees to map their career progression”. This system, it said, will reward qualifications and experience accumulated by staff and will be phased across all projects by the end of November. 

“IAC respects the rights of each employee and we give this effect by determining pay and conditions with employees directly.

“The company also respects the right of anyone to join a trade union. This is something that we have previously communicated with all our staff. The company and individual employees also have rights: these include the right not to be obliged to communicate with each other through a third party,” he added. 

“This is the path which our company will continue to pursue.”

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