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Foreign Workers Being Paid €3 An Hour In Portlaoise
laois | worker & community struggles and protests | feature Thursday September 22, 2005 21:02 by Mark C - Teacher oscailt at indymedia dot ie Fairgreen, Portlaoise
Equal pay for Equal work. Is that a difficult concept?
From the newswire: €170,000 was the price paid for the house that I am living in, in a new development in Portlaoise. I am not happy to have discovered that European Union (Czech Republic) workers are being paid €3 an hour on the site.
Recently my father bought a house at Fairgreen Village (a new post-modern living development) in Portlaoise. A woman that we know, who has been finding it very difficult to secure employment in Portlaoise, was offered a job (by another Eastern European person) cleaning out houses after they had been built, to get them ready for the purchasers to move in. She accepted the job and after the first day told me that she was being paid about €40 for ten hours’ work. This was on day one of the job.
When I informed her that this was illegal and that we have minimum pay wage agreements, she told me that she knows but that is what Eastern European workers are paid, and must be satisfied with it. On the second day she was offered €20 for six hours work – a little more than €3 an hour. The woman refused to work for so little, but her friend stayed on. When the woman said that it was illegal, her would-be contractor (a woman from Latvia I think, who I presume to be sub-contracting from the developers, Owenass Developers) she was asked why is she looking for work since she is seeing an Irishman?
UPDATE: Owenass Developers have met with Mark and have guaranteed that all workers employed directly by them are getting at least minimum wage and that they will make subcontractors sign a declaration to the same effect.
This is something that must stop. We did not pay below the market value for the house. If the market value of the houses not sold goes you, you may be sure that the price of those houses will also rise. If the price of cement, for example, goes up, you may be sure that the prices of as-yet unsold houses will also rise, as the developer will “have no choice but to pass this cost on to the consumer”. If cheaper labour is secured, you may be sure that the prices of the as-yet unsold houses will not fall. The Irish people fought for long enough, and hard enough to secure minimum-pay wage agreements, and labour rights. Allowing foreign workers to work for below this will lead to a fall in the national pay for workers. The argument has been made to me that foreign workers are happy to work for so little, because it is worth so much more in their countries, and they can send some home. I still think that no matter how happy they are with €3 an hour they would be happier with the minimum legal amount.
To contact the developers of this site you can email them, phone 0502 43567 or 086 2627314, or write to Sean Flanaghan, Owenass Developments, Portarlington, Co. Laois. The showhouses are open seven days a week.