Delaying industrial relations legislation would be a “threat to growth” in the construction sector – CIF

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has called for the urgent enactment of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the implementation of a new Registered Employment Order (REO) for the industry.

Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the CIF said any ongoing delay in the legislation could be a “threat to growth” in the construction sector.

In May 2013 the Supreme Court found the mechanism by which Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) were implemented was unconstitutional.  Since then the construction sector and other industries have been operating without legally binding industry wide employment agreements.  The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill seeks to address this issue by allowing for REOs to be introduced.

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The CIF believes the new legislation is needed for several reasons including:

  • To have a level playing field for contractors in the tendering process
  • To bring certainty to the sector on labour costs
  • To provide disputes’ procedures which will help resolve any disputes which will invariably occur in a labour intensive industry.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “The construction industry believes this legislation is urgently required.  The sector is only starting to recover and already the absence of any legally binding industry wide employment agreement is impacting the sector.  For example there are wide discrepancies in some of the tenders being submitted for various projects due to the varying wage rates being offered.  A legally binding industry wide agreement would make it a much more level playing field.  

“It would also bring a lot more assurance about the labour costs involved in any particular project – an issue which is of major concern to clients of all sizes and which will be particularly important for some of the planned public sector projects.  We want to have a healthy, growing industry but that requires greater certainty.  The lack of certainty undermines confidence and in that sense the absence of a legally binding industry agreement is a potential threat to growth.

“The new legislation will help bring that sense of calm to the sector and ensure there are specific processes in place for dealing with any problems that arise.  Delaying the legislation promotes doubt and that is something clients, construction companies, construction workers and the wider economy can’t afford.

“The implementation of an REO through this legislation benefits the construction industry, the employees, the unions and the State.  It is in the interests of everyone that the sector begins to thrive again, creating jobs and helping the economy to grow.  However that will only happen if there is relatively calm industrial relations environment and the best means of achieving that is to implement the new legislation as a matter of urgency,” Mr. Parlon concluded.