AKC News // CIF will not agree to pay rise under social partnership

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has said it is "inevitable" the body will not agree to a 6 per cent pay rise for employees in the industry under the agreed terms of social partnership.

The body plans to renegotiate for a 12month pay freeze, citing the poor economic conditions. Under the sector’s registered employment agreement, employers and employees must agree to a deal.

The federation’s executive body met last week to discuss the outcome of the national pay agreement, which was reached last month. At the meeting, it was decided that a 6 per cent pay rise over 21 months was "totally unsustainable" given the collapse of the building industry.

The CIF had sought a 12month pay freeze for the industry’s employees during the formal pay talks, but was forced to agree to a shorter, three-month pay freeze under the terms of the new agreement.

However, Tom Parlon, director general of the CIF, now plans to seek further meetings with Siptu president Jack O’Connor, ICTU general secretary David Begg and Dermot McCarthy, secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, next Tuesday.

"There was a general consensus when the executive body met last week that there could not be any pay increases throughout the industry, when most companies are laying off staff, reducing the working week to three days or taking pay cuts," Parlon said.

"When I met with construction unions last Friday, the only talk I heard was of job security - not one person mentioned a pay increase. I have been directed now by the executive body to go back and discuss this again, given the deepening recession."

"It is not easy to force the reopening of pay talks, and we know about the importance of social partnership, but in an industry that has paid top rates through the years, we need 12 months’ breathing space and it is inevitable a pay increase is not feasible now," he said.

The federation’s president also said there was a perception that the budget announced earlier this month was a "bonanza" for the industry. However, he said that while some industry issues had been dealt with in the budget, "many more are still outstanding".

"While there was a major commitment to the National Development Plan, many contractors are very concerned about how slow it is taking for the projects to be initiated," according to Parlon. "They have to let employees go when they finish one project, because another one isn’t there to begin."

Source: Nicola Cooke in The Sunday Business Post

Date : 26-10-2008