While AECI members are in favour of REAs in general, we are totally convinced that the current REA for the Electrical Contracting Industry has served its purpose and needs a root and branch examination. This view was also expressed in the Flood Cassells Report into the REA for the Electrical Contracting Industry. Not alone are the wage rates out of sink with wage rates in the U.K. and Northern Ireland, several of the conditions of the agreement are no longer practical in the climate that exists today.
AECI saw this coming some time back and went to a lot of effort to produce a draft REA for consideration by all the parties involved in the industry. While the ECA were in favour of this new REA, it was rejected out of hand by the TEEU.
This left AECI with no other option but to apply for the cancellation of the current REA through the Labour Court. We looked for and got the support of ECA who joined with AECI in applying to the Labour Court for the cancellation of the Electrical REA under Section 29 (3) of the that agreement. This application is still before the Court and is due to be heard during May or June of this year.
At a recent meeting of the ENJIC the AECI delegate was shocked to hear that ECA had gone into separate talks with the TEEU and had agreed to new pay rates for electricians. The only forewarning given was a call to the AECI President on the previous Friday informing him of this proposal. The AECI President asked the ECA to postpone this decision and proposed a meeting between the two bodies to discuss the matter; this offer was refused by ECA.
While this agreement would mean a reduction in pay rates for electricians, it is not sufficient to make Irish Electrical Contractors competitive with their counterparts in Northern Ireland or the U.K. Neither does this change any of the out of date practices that are forced on compliant electrical contractors with regard to the analogue system, travel time, the tool kit and many more.
AECI are convinced that the only way to make progress in this regard is to have the current REA cancelled and start from scratch with a bank sheet and draw up a new agreement that will serve the industry going forward and give a level playing field to all who work in this industry, particularly not to put Irish contractors and electricians at a disadvantage in competition with those from Northern Ireland and the U.K.