THE MAJORITY OF Ireland’s crane drivers will go on strike tomorrow morning in a move expected to shut down major building sites across the country.
Trade union Unite, which says it represents over 90% of workers in this sector, said members will be participating in their second day of industrial action.
The strike will take place nationwide and pickets will be placed on four key Dublin sites from 6am. The locations include the landmark Capital Dock project in Dublin’s south docklands.
Unite also said there would be a demonstration outside the Dublin headquarters of the Health and Safety Authority over concerns that workers were being issued crane operator certificates without fulfilling the relevant criteria for training and experience.
Unite regional officer for construction, Tom Fitzgerald, said that the organisation is looking for wage rises of around 10% on the maximum amounts being earned.
He previously told Fora: “At the moment there is an industry agreement that crane drivers are paid a minimum of €16.69 an hour,” he said, adding that some get as much as €22 or €23 an hour depending on the circumstances.
“We believe that crane drivers should be earning between €25 and €27 an hour,” he said at the time, equating to a roughly 10% rise.
“The reason why it is 10% is because then they would match the highest rates in the construction sector, which are for workers in mechanical grades, like plumbers and welders.”
Unite members previously voted for limited industrial action, but the strikes were since extended to Construction Industry Federation members – which make up most of the country’s largest building firms.
Both the CIF and rival union Siptu, which also represents crane drivers, have criticised the strike action. Siptu has claimed Unite is trying to recruit its members and taken the issue to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The Labour Court previously recommended that construction grades such as crane drivers be paid around €18 per hour.
Reporting by Garreth MacNamee and Peter Bodkin.