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Electricians vote for national strike

Friday, February 07 12:16:12

Members of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union have voted by 94pc in favour of industrial action in a row over pay rates and working conditions in the electrical contracting industry.

The ballot followed a decision by the Electrical Contractors Association, the largest employer group, to allow members to impose pay cuts on a firm by firm basis.

Notice of industrial action will be served today on all employers for Monday, February 24th.

TEEU General Secretary Eamon Devoy said today that the outcome of the strike ballot "shows the strength of feeling of our members".

"During the last nine years they have been faced with serious austerity measures including both direct and indirect tax increases, negative equity in their homes and loss of medical insurance as well as falling earnings. Now, just as the economy shows signs of recovery, the employers want to impose pay cuts."

"The TEEU has continually tried to reach agreement with the employers about how to plan a sustainable recovery strategy for the industry. Unfortunately the employer groups have continued to squabble amongst themselves and it now seems that they intend allowing the law of the jungle to prevail with every company negotiating its own rates of pay directly with employees. Such a development would lead inevitably to a situation where not only employment but consumer and safety standards would plummet," Mr Devoy added.

"It is in no one's interest that this should happen except for a few cowboy operators whose only interest is in winning a quick buck and moving on to rip off the next customer."

Mr Devoy said that, "strike action will be taken nationally against all employers simultaneously or strategically against individual employers as determined by the Executive Council of the Union."

The dispute arises out of a Supreme Court decision last May to strike out all existing Registered Employment Agreements as unconstitutional. These agreements have set pay and conditions for designated sectors such as electrical contracting since 1925 and have provided for registration with the Labour Court since 1946. The current electrical agreement had been registered with the Labour Court since 1990.

Under former agreements and Labour Court recommendations TEEU members are entitled to pay rates of E24.78 an hour from April 1st, 2014, but the ECA wants to cut the existing rate of E21.49 by tenpc to E19.34. The union had been willing to discuss the ECA proposals, but only in the context of a new Registered Employment Agreement that would protect overall industry standards.