Mechanical workers at major engineering firms vote to strike over discontinued allowance
Around 250 mechanical workers at engineering firms Leo Lynch and Jones group company H A O’Neill are set to take industrial action in a dispute over an discontinued allowance their trade union says is worth 12.8 per cent of their gross pay.
The first of three day strikes currently planned is scheduled to ahead on March 10th. If it proceeds it could affect some of the highest profile construction sites in the State.
Unite said on Thursday said that over 90 per cent of the plumbers, pipe fitters and welders at the companies had voted to take strike action in pursuit of the restoration of the full travel time allowance which the union says was cut in the wake of the economic crash in 2008.
It says that the measure, which was implemented in 2011, was intended to be temporary however the Labour Court held late last year that the move had been part of an agreement with the Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Constructors Association (MEBSCA) that involved the consolidation of the disputed allowance into basic pay and declined to recommend its restoration.
MEBSCA argued at the time that its members paid higher rates than other firms in the sector and that restoring the full allowance would make the firms affected uncompetitive.
Unite said on Thursday that pay in the sector has still not returned to pre-economic crisis levels and that its members are now being further affected by the rise in inflation. Its members at other companies in the sector are also being balloted on industrial action, it said.
“The action by our members in H A O’Neill and Leo Lynch comes after Unite exhausted all other avenues to achieve restoration of the first hour of ‘Travel Time’,” said Unite regional officer Rob Kelly. “The fact that the vote in favour of strike action was over 90 per cent reflects our members’ anger at the refusal by these highly profitable employers to reverse what was initially supposed to be a temporary cut imposed over a decade ago.
“It is not too late for the employers to engage with Unite and agree to restoration of the first hour of ‘Travel Time’ before our members down tools on March 10th. In the event that they refuse to do so, two further days of strike action are scheduled, and Unite is continuing to ballot members working for other mechanical companies. Unite members are not prepared to subside employers’ profits during a cost-of-living crisis”, he said.