Construction unions call for extra protection for workers
The Trade Union Federation (TUF), which includes SIPTU, BATU and CONNECT trade unions, have called on construction employers to ensure that maximum protection is provided for workers as they return to work this week.
SIPTU Construction Sector Organiser, John Regan, said: “While we welcome the fact that the National Protocol makes it obligatory for employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees on building sites, they need extra protection. Our members require more specific and written assurances which detail how the regulation of the new Covid-19 measures will be monitored in a meaningful way between worker representatives, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the employers. In the past, we have had a situation where construction workers were penalised after raising safety issues and this situation must not be repeated during this crisis.”#
Connect General Secretary, Brian Nolan said: “Where employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they must determine what steps are required to create one. If all appropriate actions have been taken, including obtaining advice from the HSA, and the threat from the virus persists, the employer must close the workplace.”
BATU General Secretary, Brendan O’Sullivan said: “The Covid-19 team which is monitoring the health and safety protocol should not be exposed to risk. These key personnel must receive all the necessary training and have a structured framework, which should be regularly audited, within the workplace in order to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus. They should also be clearly identifiable to all workers on the site.”
SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “We must ensure that there is no further lockdown as a result of a fresh surge in the virus and also avoid a repetition of the appalling situation in the red meat industry. We don’t believe that the normal self-regulation mechanisms are appropriate under the current circumstances and a representative forum of workers and employers is required to co-ordinate with the HSA and its inspection process.”