Rhatigan workers protest 200ft in air

by Ian Begley

Workers at a major school building project in Lucan have occupied a 200ft tall tower crane in protest over their alleged underpayment at the JJ Rhatigan site.
Their trade union Unite says that bricklayers at the Kishoge Community College building site were earning less than €5 an hour due to the system of subcontracting and have been “locked out” of their workplace for seven weeks now.
Developers JJ Rhatigan said these allegations were completely untrue.
Luke Fitzpatrick and Gary Gleeson climbed the crane on October 6 and at the time claimed they had enough food and water to last them several days.
Strikers on the ground told the Gazette they were willing to go on hunger strike if Rhatigan did not meet their demands.
As a result of their actions, the site has been closed to the 70 agency workers employed by JJ Rhatigan due to health and safety.
A sister of one of the crane occupiers, Annemarie Gleeson, spoke to The Gazette about her brother’s decision to take this action.
“I support my brother 100%, but it’s just very sad that it had to come to this. It was very cold last night and they [gardai] are refusing to give them food and water.
“Hopefully Rhatigan will do something to meet their demands.”
Asked if she thought the strikers would go on hunger strike if their request for higher payment was not met, Gleeson said: “Absolutely, look at what they’re doing now. Hopefully Rhatigans won’t let it happen, but if push comes to shove they will.”
In response to the strike, JJ Rhatigan have called on Unite to end the picketing of the school building site and enter normal industrial relations procedures for resolving disputes.
They are also accusing strikers of “persistent intimidation” of the 70 workers on the site, including stone throwing, slashing of lorry tyres and smashing windows of the bus bringing workers to their jobs each day.
“Seventy people are being deprived of the right to work as a result of the actions of a small number of reckless individuals who refuse to adhere to accepted industrial relations procedures,” said JJ Rhatigan in a statement.
Unite member Maurice Leonard told The Gazette that he denies that the strikers are intimidating the workers now employed on the site, or involved in any vandalism of JJ Rhatigan property.
“Those workers shouldn’t be on this site at all. This is an official picket and they are scabs,” he said.
“There are men who have been working here for weeks and weeks and still haven’t been paid yet,” he said.

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