Electricians: set to receive a €1 an hour pay rise

A full resumption of work on all major building sites including Lansdowne Road and the new terminal at Dublin Airport is expected tomorrow after Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy yesterday evening recommended that 10,500 electricians on strike for the last week be paid an increase of 4.9% in two phases.

The TEEU union meets today and is expected to tell members to lift pickets and return to work.

"This dispute could have been settled as long ago as last Wednesday if the ECA and AECI had been able to agree a common position on how to resolve it," said the TEEU's Eamon Devoy at the weekend.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan will also ask the Labour Relations Commission (LRC)?to oversee an independent review of the "dynamics of this critical industry and how they have contributed to this dispute and the difficulty in finding a resolution".

It is understood that the review will concentrate on how a breakaway group of employers, the National Electrical Contractors of Ireland, which initiated a legal challenge against the wage-setting process for electricians because they are not party to it, had delayed a speedy resolution to this dispute.

The union was seeking payment of an 11.3% increase, which it said was its entitlement under the agreed process which automatically sets electricians' pay every year by reference to wages in a secret list of 16 comparable employments. An increase of 4.9% was agreed under this process in April 2008 but was never paid while the TEEU claimed that a further 6.4% was due under the April 2009 review.

The total 11.3% rise would have increased the electricians' hourly pay by over €2 an hour.

However, the court recommended implementation of the April 2008 increase of 4.9% for now. This works out at a little over €1 an hour. The process will be reviewed in a few months.

The breakthrough came late on Friday night when the chief executive of the LRC, Kieran Mulvey, sec­ured agreement between the two participating employer bodies, the larger Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and the smaller and slightly more reluctant Association of Electrical Contractors, to abide by the wage setting process.

The ECA and AECI had earlier agreed to withdraw its claim for a 10% wage cut – a move which set the tone for final agreement.

It is understood that a key boost during the talks at the LRC was the surprise concession on RTE's Morning Ireland by Denis Judge, head of the breakaway NECI, and a former TEEU member, that it could pay the April 2008 4.9% increase.

It is understood that the LRC's Kieran Mulvey used this to assuage the smaller AECI's fears that if it agreed to this their members would quit for the breakaway NECI.