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Irish Cement workers strike over unpaid money and planned pay cuts

Workers say they are due between €5,000 and €9,500 each after a Labour Court ruling, but the company wants pay cuts.

A kiln at the Irish Cement plant in Platin, Co Meath, Irish Cement's headquarters.
A kiln at the Irish Cement plant in Platin, Co Meath, Irish Cement's headquarters.
Image: Irish Cement

IRISH CEMENT WORKERS have begun strike action at the company’s two production plants in Limerick and Meath in a dispute over what workers say is the company’s failure to honour a Labour Court recommendation.

Staff say the company has yet to pay them between €5,000 and €9,500 each, in line with a recommendation issued by the Labour Court over year.

Over 100 staff have downed tools and begun strike action, however, because the company has sought pay cuts of between 15 and 18 per cent before it proceeds to release the outstanding money to employees.

Karan O’Loughlin from the Irish Cement Group of Unions said acceptance of the pay cut was not part of the Labour Court recommendation, and that workers would maintain their industrial action until the money was released without precondition.

In a statement this afternoon the company said it was disappointed at the all-out strike action, insisting it had sought to engage with staff unions on what it called an “urgent need for reductions in pay rates, which include bonuses reflecting peak output levels”.

It said its current pay rates, which have been unchanged since 2008, are around 60 per cent higher than the average industrial wage, and had not been cut despite the slump in construction output.

“Pay rates are unsustainable and are impacting negatively on the competitiveness of the company in the markets in which it operates and also on its capacity to export,” the company said.

It added that the Labour Court had suggested a pay cut of 6 per cent for staff, but a union ballot had rejected the plan, and that it believed previous work-to-rule actions by unionised workers were “irresponsible”.

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Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams urged the company to honour the Labour Court recommendation and release the outstanding funds.

“It is unfortunate that the Irish Cement Group of Unions which includes SIPTU, the TEEU and Unite has had to go to such lengths to secure the payment of monies which the workers are entitled to,” he said.

Adams said he had contacted jobs minister Richard Bruton to try and have the government use its influence to see that the Labour Court recommendations were followed.

Irish Cement is part of the CRH Group, a public company which recorded pre-tax profits of €711 million last year.

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Gavan Reilly

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