AKC News // CIF call for pay freeze in wage talks

THE Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is set to call for a 12-month pay freeze for building workers and for the entry level pay of new employees to be slashed by over 30 per cent at the upcoming talks on the National Pay Agreement, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The powerful building lobby's sobering demand for wage restraint will receive its first official airing later this week when the CIF presents the findings of a report on the building industry currently being finalised on its behalf by DKM Economic Consultants.

As the decline in Ireland's residential property market continues, the analysis suggests that building companies across the country are now coming under significant financial pressure.

Spiralling oil prices, the increasing cost of building materials, rising labour costs and a fall-off in the value of construction contracts are all cited in the DKM report as posing a major threat to the future competitiveness of Ireland's construction industry.

As the one variable which can be controlled, however, the cost of labour is given special attention in the analysis, a copy of which has been seen by the Sunday Independent.

In a detailed examination of the earnings of Ireland's construction workers between 1997 and 2007, the report finds that the average hourly rate given to employees in the sector has more than doubled during that time.

The CIF's case for a pay freeze is pressed home in the DKM report, with the authors noting major discrepancies between rates of pay given to construction workers here, compared to their peers in Germany and Spain.

While craft workers in Ireland earned an agreed hourly rate of €17.36 in 2006, their equivalents in Germany and Spain received €13.75 and €14.61 respectively.

Sunday Independent March 02 2008

Meanwhile SIPTU rejects call for building pay freeze

SIPTU has rejected a call by the Construction Industry Federation for a 12-month pay freeze and a 30% cut in entry rates for construction workers.

The union's general president, Jack O'Connor, said that the call from the Director General of the CIF, Tom Parlon, had the potential 'to turn building sites into battle grounds'.

He said that proposals such as those from the federation were 'neither morally justifiable nor economically advisable'.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, Mr Parlon said the aim is to protect jobs in construction.

Mr O'Connor was speaking ahead of a meeting in Mullingar yesterday evening as part of a series of meetings in a campaign for equal treatment for agency workers in sectors such as construction.

RTE March 04 2008

Date : 04-03-2008