Press Release

Construction Industry Committee of ICTU raises serious concerns about building safety

Date Released: 24 October 2018

The Construction Industry Committee of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions has expressed serious concern that 40 schools built since 2008 are to undergo structural assessment inspections because of fire safety and structural issues.

Billy Wall, Chairman of the committee, said considering Western Building Systems was the main contractor on some of the schools the revelations about build quality was a “damning report which called into question the system of awarding construction contracts”.

In particular Mr Wall said “the system seems to be awarding contracts to building contractors who tender for work on the basis of the lowest price offered. This is clearly not working considering recent buildings that have been condemned for unsafe work practices including the schools identified in the recent report, and residential schemes such as Priory Hall and Longboat Quay.

“It should also be remembered that a serious fire engulfed six homes in Co Kildare which burned down in the matter of minutes due to build quality”.

The CIC have over the past number of years expressed the view that the cheapest price will never give a positive return and it is clear from the report that this opinion was correct - “why are some builders who offer high standards and are well regulated overlooked when it comes to awarding contracts”? said Mr Wall.

He added that “the Department of Education and other authorities will need to look at their protocols when awarding contracts, when making interim payments and when ensuring that builders comply with Public Works Contracts (PWC’s) for the duration of the contract”.

Wall also said “There is a requirement under PWC’s that only qualified people will carry out work on site, this is not happening which is having a detrimental effect on apprenticeship and on the works carried out”.

According to Billy Wall “the sub-contractors, who were engaged on site to carry out the works, need to be identified and show that companies like Western Building Systems employ properly qualified crafts people”.

He added “that as a result of these serious failures and safety concerns at our schools there needs to be a serious discussion about the awarding of contracts.

The unions are calling upon the CIF to hold discussions on a better way forward for the industry, for those who work in it and for the end users”.

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