30th January 2018
Minister Breen gives go ahead for new pay rates following Labour Court recommendation
The Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD, has formally approved a recommendation from the Labour Court for new pay rates, that will apply to approximately 10,000 skilled workers employed in the Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector. The Sector covers craft workers such as plumbers, pipefitters and welders.
The Labour Court recommendation follows from an application to the Court by the TEEU and Unite in January 2017, to review the terms and conditions of workers in the Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector. Following its Review the Labour Court submitted its recommendation to the Minister in late December 2017, recommending the following minimum rates of pay:
Category 1 Worker €22.73 per hour
(Newly qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector).
Category 2 Worker €23.33 per hour
(Qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector with effect from the commencement of their 3rd year of employment after qualification as a plumber or
Category 3 Worker €23.60 per hour
(Qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector with effect from the commencement of their 6th year of employment after qualification as a plumber or pipefitter).
The following rates shall apply to apprentices employed in the Sector:-
Year 1 33.3% of Category 1 hourly rate of pay
Year 2 50% of Category 1 hourly rate of pay
Year 3 75% of Category 1 hourly rate of pay
Year 4 90% of Category 1 hourly rate of pay.
The Court further recommended that qualified plumbers and pipefitters who have acquired additional or advanced welding qualifications and who are required to function as welders on a day to day basis within the Sector will also come under the scope of the proposed Order.
The recommendation also provides for unsocial hours payments and sets terms for pension and sick pay schemes.
The recommendation is the second such recommendation from the Labour Court under the new legislation in place since 2015. The recommendation, if approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas will take effect by means of a Sectoral Employment Order.
The Minister noted that the recommendation was concluded with the agreement of the employers’ representative body, the Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Contractors Association.
Minister Breen welcomed the Labour Court recommendation and thanked the Court for its work in examining the application from the TEEU and Unite. The Minister said ‘I have carefully considered the Labour Court Report and Recommendation to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 Act. I am satisfied that these requirements have been met and I am pleased to accept the Court’s recommendation’.
This measure is a further important step in consolidating employment terms and conditions in the construction sector and maintaining the attractiveness for employment in that sector.
As required, the Minister will now proceed to have the draft Order considered in both Houses of the Oireachtas over the coming weeks before it can be adopted in law.
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NOTE TO EDITOR
Sectoral Employment Orders (SEO) are a wage setting mechanism provided for in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. They replace the Registered Employment Agreement system which was found to be unconstitutional in 2013.
Employers and Unions that are substantially representative of a Sector can jointly or separately ask the Labour Court to review terms and conditions in a Sector. Such a review involves a public consultation process.
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 sets out principles and policies which the Labour Court must have regard to when making its recommendation. The Court makes its recommendation to the Minister along with a Report on the circumstances around the making of the recommendation.
If the Minister is satisfied that the Court complied with the provisions of the 2015 Act a draft Order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the Minister can only make the Order after a resolution approving it has been passed by each House.
Sectoral Employment Orders are legally binding on the Sectors to which they apply and their provisions are enforceable by the Workplace Relations Commission.
Where enterprises in Sectors that are covered by Sectoral Employment Orders are experiencing severe financial difficulties they can apply to the Labour Court for an exemption from paying the rates provided for in the Order. The 2015 Act sets down the type of information and documentation that must be submitted to the Court in support of such an application. 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.
To-date four other applications have been made to the Labour Court to examine terms and conditions in a Sector – one resulted in the SEO for the Construction Sector which came into effect on in October 2017, two were withdrawn and one was rejected.
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