Brickies ‘locked out’ of jobs

by Ian Begley
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Seventeen bricklayers at a school building project in Lucan are claiming that they have been “locked out” of their jobs by construction company JJ Rhatigan.
The workers who have been holding demonstrations at the Lucan Kishogue school building project since September 1 say that they’re being paid just €8 per hour and are demanding a fairer wage.
All workers on the site are registered as sole traders known as RCT1s [relevant contract tax]. The workers who are not willing to act as sole traders working for subcontractors are being told to leave the site, according to Sinn Finn councillor Eoin O Broin.
He has called on the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, to carry out an urgent investigation into school building contracts following the “lockout”.
He said: “The workers have been locked out since Monday [September 1]. However, there have been ongoing problems at this site since construction began earlier this year.
“The escalating situation at the school construction site in Lucan is further evidence of the need for an urgent Government review of how such building contracts operate. While the latest difficulties relate to the low rates of pay on the site the real problem is much deeper,” said Cllr O Broin.
In response to the demonstrations currently taking place at the Lucan Kishogue School building project, a spokesperson for JJ Rhatigan said that the ongoing dispute is not with them but with Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited and their employees.
“JJ Rhatigan and Company have employed no bricklayers on this site. The bricklaying was sub-contracted to Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited. Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited were paid market rates, which would be more than adequate to facilitate payment of well over the minimum wage to their employees.
“The ongoing dispute is between Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited and their employees. JJ Rhatigan and Company are not in dispute with Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited or their employees.
“We understand Gleeson and Molloy Bricklaying Services Limited have now abandoned work on this site and taken up work elsewhere,” said the spokesperson.
The Department of Education also commented saying that they are currently conducting an audit on the school building project.
A spokesperson said: “The Department appointed contractors administration services in April 2013, to conduct random audits on school building projects in order to verify compliance with the relevant pay and conditions clauses in the public works contracts.
“Contractors administration services have been requested to carry out an audit on the school building project in Lucan and this audit is on-going. Should irregularities be uncovered in terms of non-compliance with employment law, enforcement and prosecution falls under the remit of NERA.
“If an audit uncovers any other matters of concern regarding tax compliance or social welfare fraud, such matters will be referred to either the revenue commissioners and/or the Department of Social Protection as appropriate.
“Issues or grievances relating to pay and conditions of employment should be pursued through standard industrial relations channels.”

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