Limerick housing project staff set to go on strike

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Work at the Vizes Court development is set to be disrupted by strike action next week
WORK on the two active regeneration projects are set to be seriously disrupted next week as the biggest plasterers union stages industrial action.

WORK on the two active regeneration projects are set to be seriously disrupted next week as the biggest plasterers union stages industrial action.

At present, some 30 plasterers are employed working on major housing projects at Vizes Court in the city centre, and Carew Park on the southside.

At the moment, these are the only parts of the stalled regeneration scheme which are in progress.

Vizes Court is to provide 30 units for the elderly, while the Carew Park project is to provide homes for 35 older people.

But the Operative Plasterers & Allied Trades Society of Ireland (OPATSI) has written to the main contractor on both projects, Clancy Construction, with a notice to serve strike action in seven days - next Wednesday September 4.

OPATSI members unanimously voted for industrial action at a meeting held this week in the Mechanic’s Institute.

Their main grievance is the alleged non-employment of local workers on site, as well as the contention that the company is not cooperating with the union.

This comes in spite of a landmark agreement signed between the union and Clancy Construction for the now-completed Cliona Park project, which guaranteed local employment.

This stipulated the company would contact the plasters’ trade union’s office to ascertain whether the employees it was seeking to employ were members.

However, regional organiser Brian Quinn said when they tried to make their own enquiries on this, the company did not co-operate.

OPATSI officials paid a number of visits to both Vizes Court and Carew Park to make enquiries.

In a letter to Clancy Construction signed by OPATSI’s Limerick president Seamus Quinn, vice-president Brian O’Grady, secretary Mike Quinn, and Brian Quinn, they wrote they “unfortunately could not ascertain who is carrying out the plastering works on your site. We were informed that they were eight in number, but most of the names were either unknown or being withheld.” The strike action is unlikely to halt the projects completely.

But it is likely to provide a major headache to Limerick City and County Council, which has put the regeneration scheme at the heart of its economic plan.

Mr Quinn says he hopes other building unions will join OPATSI members in solidarity on the picket line.

As part of the strike notice, the builders union has signalled its intention to place pickets “at any place where your firm carries out its place of business within the state.”

Mr Quinn says he has not ruled out taking action on other, non-regeneration sites, including work the company is doing at the University of Limerick.

He says union members are very upset.

“People are very upset that in a region where there is very high unemployment, that contractors are bringing in workers from other parts of the country. Not one local person is employed on the Carew Park project.

“In Vizes Court, there are only four or five employed,” he told the Limerick Leader.

Clancy Construction declined to comment when contacted by the Limerick Leader.