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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020

Unions protest over claims of 'continued abuse of builders' by Dept of Education

The union claims that workers are being ‘forced’ to work as self-employed, “despite the fact that they are clearly employees.”

Updated 3.14pm

CONSTRUCTION UNIONS ARE staging protests over an alleged ‘continued abuse of workers’ at Department of Education building projects.

Two protests have taken place today, one at St Patrick’s College in Dublin and another outside the Department of Education and Skills.

These are organised by the Construction Group of Unions under their ‘Campaign for Decent Work in the Construction Industry’.

The union claims that workers are being ‘forced’ to work as self-employed, “despite the fact that they are clearly employees.”

“This is done to drive wages even lower and to deny the workers concerned their pension and death-in-service entitlements as well as legal protection for holiday pay and other basic employment rights,” a statement read.

“Employment agencies, some of very dubious repute, are sourcing most of their exploited cheap labour from outside the state.

“The Department of Education and Skills, despite knowing of these abuses for over two years, has continued to award new contracts to the contractors involved,” they have alleged.

In a statement, the Department of Education said:

The Department of Education and Skills has arrangements in place to investigate any complaints in relation to compliance requirements on construction sites in the education sector and for ensuring that any issues arising are followed up by the appropriate authorities.

Issues or grievances relating to pay and conditions of employment should be pursued through standard industrial relations channels. In addition, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is developing legislative proposals to address the status of registered employment agreements in the construction sector.

Unions involved include OPATSI, UCATT, SIPTU, BATU, and TEEU. They are asking for access to the sites.

Former Minisiter for Education Ruairí Quinn confirmed last month that officials are investigating claims that construction companies granted contracts by his department are committing social welfare fraud.

Read: Construction activity remains “robust” in tenth month of growth >

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Nicky Ryan

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