News | 14 May 2019

Pay increases for electrical and construction workers

Minimum rates of pay for workers in the construction sector are set to rise by 5.4% while rates in the electrical sector will increase by 2.7%.

The increases, which have been approved by the Government and will come into effect in the Autumn, were formulated in two Labour Court recommendations.

For workers in the construction sector, the 5.4% increase will come into effect in two stages - the first 2.7% increase will apply from October 1 until September 30, 2020, while the second will run from October 1, 2020.

  • ‘Craftpersons’, including the likes of bricklayers, joiners, painters and plasterers will see their basic hourly rate rise to €19.44 and on up to €19.96.
  • For ‘Category A’ workers - including the likes of scaffolders, steel fixers and crane drivers the minimum will rise to €18.86 and on up to €19.37.
  • Category B workers’ minimum rate will rise to €17.50 and then up to €17.97. They are skilled general operatives who have worked in the sector for more than two years.
  • New entrants will see their minimum rate rise to €14.52 overall.
  • Apprentices will see their pay rise in line with the craft rate - they get 33% of the craft rate in year 1 up to 90% in year 4.

    In the electrical sector Category 1 workers’ minimum rates will rise to €23.49, Category 2 will rise to €23.96, and Category 3 will rise to €24.34. The minimum apprentice rates in the sector will range from €7.05 to €18.80.

    The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said the recommendations also provide for unsocial hours payments and set terms for pension and sick pay schemes.

    The recommendations, once approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, will take effect by means of a Sectoral Employment Order.

    Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs) are legally binding on the sectors to which they apply and their provisions are enforceable by the Workplace Relations Commission.

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    Where enterprises in sectors that are covered by SEOs are experiencing severe financial difficulties they can apply to the Labour Court for an exemption from paying the rates provided for in the Order.

    Agreement of the majority of workers for whom the exemption is sought is also required by the Court before such an exemption will be granted.

    “The Sectoral Employment process is welcome in that it provides an independent assessment of pay rates that takes into account the views of all interested parties,” said junior minister Pat Breen who formally approved the increases.

    However, the Small Firms Association said the approval of increases was “disappointing” for small businesses working in the industry.

    “Due to the high demand for tradesmen on building sites across the country, service providers in the construction and electrical sector are finding it difficult to compete against these labour rates, and to retain and attract tradesmen,” said SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens.

    These small businesses also offer permanent stable employment, training and upskilling alongside additional benefits, it is discouraging that the debate on terms and conditions in the construction and electrical sector continues to revolve around one single number and does not take the broader package on offer into account.

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