It’s now two weeks into the official strike of JJ Rhatigan workers on site in Kishoge Community College, Lucan and four weeks since they were locked out.
In a ballot on Thursday 11th September, eighteen Unite members working at the Kishoge site unanimously voted to take industrial action, including strike action and pickets, at all JJ Rhatigan & Co. sites. This strike went into effect on the 19th. The workers are striking as a result of unfair treatment, poverty level wages and forced sub-contracting.
Sub-contracting means that bricklayers and other workers on the company payroll are treated as ‘self-employed’ rather than as PAYE workers, and therefore have no PRSI, holiday, pension or other entitlements. Workers on the site have been given a stark choice: become a ‘sub-contractor’ – or leave the site.
Seven Unite members started on the Kishoge project on May 26th, but they received no pay until the 4th of July. One of the men was then told he was a ‘sub-contractor’ and was now ‘employing’ the other men – as such, he was paid just €5,292 as the total payment for all seven bricklayers. In effect, some of the workers have been earning less than €5 per hour – well below the National Minimum Wage, and less than a third of the agreed industry rate of €17.21 per hour. They have received no pay for six weeks.
After the first bricklaying contractor abandoned the project, two of the remaining bricklayers, whom JJ Rhatigan had commissioned as ‘sub-contractors’, asked the company to pay the agreed industry rate of €17.21 per hour. Following that, another pair of bricklayers were dismissed, resulting in the workers downing tools in protest. On September 1st, JJ Rhatigan & Co. locked out all the bricklayers and any workers associated with them.
JJ Rhatigan & Co is a major Galway-based construction firm with contracts in both the public and the private sector. At present the company has around 50 % of current school building contracts at construction stage awarded by the Department of Education. Feel free to contact them and let them know how you feel about their exploitation of workers.
A solidarity protest was held on site on the 3rd of October from 2pm to 6pm, with over sixty attending. Another protest is called for the 4th from 12pm to 2pm, held at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane, in Dublin 8. This hotel is owned by the same people who own JJ Rhatigan & Co. For more information please check out the Unite leaflet.
About our group:
Unite Youth Dublin are a group of young trade unionists who are involved in political activism and want to build a fighting union which can campaign on progressive issues. We are actively recruiting Unite members so if you’re interested in getting involved then give us a shout by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not a Unite member and wish to join then please read this page to learn more. We are an informal and independent group that makes decisions collectively, join us to get your voice heard and to begin the process of striking back.