LIMERICK Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has welcomed the agreement between the Trade Union Federation and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) to ensure the safety of workers across the industry.
The Castleconell-based politician, who is his party’s Seanad spokesperson for Workers Rights, welcomed the additional industry-specific measures within the agreement to deal with the threat of Covid-19.
“This agreement includes measures to introduce a new monitoring system, improved access to sites for union representatives, alternative work patterns and temperature testing of workers,” Senator Gavan commented.
He believes these measures now have the potential to give significant added protections to construction workers as they continue to return to work over the coming days.
“The Agreement builds on the Return To Work Protocol successfully concluded between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Employers and the Health and Safety Authority.
“In particular I believe the improved access to sites for union officials will be key to ensuring that where problems arise they can be dealt with swiftly. This is the best means of ensuring that the Return To Work Protocol is adhered to. It is imperative that worker safety be at all times the guiding principle- and if this means sites should close, then that is what must happen,” he added.
Senator Gavan considers it essential that unionised workers can highlight unsafe practices without fear of retribution. He also urged those construction workers not already in a union to get organised.
“Workers through their trade unions have always played a crucial role in health and safety. Now, with the threat of COVID-19 it is more important than ever that every construction worker is a member of a union.”
“The unions involved, comprising construction unions, SIPTU, BATU and Connect, along with the CIF, deserve credit for this initiative. Construction workers must be able to feel safe on site. This agreement may also have the potential to be a template for workers in other sectors as they plan to return to work,” he concluded.