Wednesday, 2 November 2005
Dáil Éireann Debate
140. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that abuses in the construction industry have been referred to in a recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General and in remarks by the Pensions Ombudsman; his proposals to deal with these concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31618/05]
143. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proportion of the 230,000 strong construction industry workforce which is covered under the CIF pensions registered agreement; if he intends to take measures to ensure that employers fulfil their legal obligation to register and make pension contributions for all employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31624/05]
171. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to reports that some employers in the construction industry are withholding employees’ subscriptions to the CIF sick pay and pensions fund; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that such practices jeopardise the entitlements of construction workers; the steps he proposes to take to remedy this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31626/05]
The construction federation operatives pension scheme, generally referred to as CFOPS, has been established on foot of a registered employment agreement for the construction industry. A separate registered employment agreement in the construction sector provides for the establishment of statutory rates of pay and related working conditions of employment. The terms of both agreements apply to a range of categories of workers in the industry.
Compliance with CFOPS has been an issue of concern for some while and it prompted the Pensions Board to engage Mercer Consultants to carry out a review. The terms of reference for the consultants were formulated by a steering committee that included representatives of the social partners.
The report was recently published and it sets out a range of recommendations that focus on the issues highlighted above. The recommendations have policy and operational implications for various Departments that are being examined at present.
In the meantime work has also been progressing with regard to the discussion document prepared in connection with the mandate and resourcing the labour inspectorate. The social partners, together with representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Finance, are members of the Employment Rights Compliance Group, ERCG, that is considering the discussion document. Among the issues being examined is the simplification and streamlining of employment rights compliance monitoring and the redress system. Those recommendations of the Mercer report that impinge on the activities of the labour inspectorate will be considered by the ERCG.
A board of trustees comprising an independent chair together with five members, each nominated by the CIF and the union side respectively, administers CFOPS. Broadly speaking, responsibility for compliance with the registered employment agreement rests with the signatories to the agreement and to assist them in this task they established the Construction Industry Monitoring Agency, known as CIMA, to monitor compliance on their behalf. In processing a case of non-compliance CIMA ultimately refers matters to the Labour Court which will hold a hearing and, if satisfied as to non-compliance, issues an order against the employer concerned. The court may ask the labour inspectorate for assistance in checking records.
There are also provisions in legislation whereby a trade union, an association of employers or an individual employer may complain to the Labour Court that a particular employer is not complying with a registered employment agreement. If, after investigating a complaint, the court is satisfied that the employer is in breach it may by order direct compliance with the agreement. Failure to comply with such an order is an offence punishable by a fine.
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