Written Answers. - Construction Industry.

Denis Naughten

Question:

268 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has satisfied herself that all construction workers employed here are in receipt of the average wage in their technical field; the number of incidents investigated in the past 12 months where employers were in breach of such employment regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20839/03]

Terms and conditions of employment for construction workers working in Ireland are regulated by the Registered Employment Agreement (Construction Industry Wages and Conditions of Employment) Variation Order 1996, with effect from 17 June 1996 and Registered Employment Agreement (Construction Industry Pensions Assurance and Sick Pay) Variation Order 1994, with effect from 10 October 1994. Because the variation order governing wages and conditions of employment has not been updated, due to legal difficulties, the going rate in the industry is much higher than that which is provided for in the 1996 variation order and legally enforceable. While the Labour inspectorate has a role in the investigation of complaints in respect of alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Registered Employment Agreement, the Labour Court also has an enforcement role. Labour inspectorate activity in the area of pay and conditions of employment show that ten cases were finalised during 2002. To date in 2003, nine such complaints have been received by the Labour inspectorate of my Department and are receiving attention.

Under the Industrial Relations Acts 1946 to 2001, a trade union representative of employers or workers may complain to the Labour Court that any employer to whom the agreements relate has failed or neglected to comply with either agreement. The Labour inspectorate assists the Labour Court in its endeavours in this regard by carrying out examinations of relevant employer's records. It is this work that makes up the bulk of the inspectorate's activity in respect of the pensions assurance and sick pay REA as it is the norm that such complaints are processed through the Court. Complaints for the most part come from the Construction Industry Federation. The Labour Court having finalised their examination of a complaint, will issue a court order if appropriate. Legal proceedings for failure to comply with the court order are processed by my Department as necessary.

Regarding the pension and sick pay registered employment agreement, the inspection statistics for the year 2002 show that my Department's inspectorate handled 12 cases. In 2003 to date the inspectorate has received 38 such cases of which 12 have been finalised.

Denis Naughten

Question:

269 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the allegations of non-national construction employees working up to 80 hours per week while their Irish counter parts cannot gain overtime; if her Department has received such complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20840/03]

My Department is not aware of any allegations that non-national construction employees are working up to 80 hours per week while their Irish counterparts cannot gain overtime. However, if there is evidence that particular Irish construction workers are being treated less favourably than their non-national counterparts then a complaint of alleged discrimination can be made to the Equality Tribunal under the Employment Equality Act 1998. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, provides that an employer shall not permit an employee to work more than 48 hours per week, averaged over a period of four or six months. An employee or any trade union of which the employee is a member, may, with the consent of the employee, present a complaint to a rights commissioner that an employer is in breach of the average weekly working hours provisions of the Act.