Builders Need Real Workers’ Trade Unions During Covid

TUF Guy Talk

Trade Union Federation (TUF) officials make the argument that the builders who aren’t lazy want to keep working on site.

But we are seeing this week: COVID’s a real killer. Enough ‘TUF Guy’ stuff.

Last week SIPTU Construction Sector came out with a video to keep SIPTU-affiliated sites open. It boasted there were just 4 cases of COVID out of 200,000 workers on all building sites. (

False. Ask any builder today about the number of people this week who didn’t get past the temperature checks and 5-minute COVID swabs. Sites all over are seeing 5-10 cases at least. Bigger sites, bigger numbers. It’s dangerous.


Talk is that some housing sites are being misclassified as ‘public’ to get permission to stay open. FF/FG/Green made this easy for the biggest builders. It exempted Foreign Direct Investment-linked projects from closure saying FDI sites are ‘essential’. The HQ for Amazon in Portobello? New Intel facilities in Lucan? Essential? No. Public housing builds are essential.

The TUF union leaders claims are typical of  ‘Boss’s Unions’. They are taking the boss’s side and promoting boss views the bosses want their workers to have.

People Before Profit say there’s no room in the Irish trade union movement for boss’s unions anymore. No Shortcuts. We need workers’ unions.

What the TUF should do

  1. TUF should be collecting and distributing accurate information about cases on sites wherever they operate. ’21 days without an injury’- ’21 days without COVID’ Workers shouldn’t risk transmission. Outbreaks should be public info.
  2. TUF should be enforcing the proper closure rules – not making videos about how closing sites isn’t fair. Heads up about safety- not ‘keep your head down, lad’. Our builders have at-risk family at home. Enough ‘TUF Guy’ stuff.
  3. TUF should be looking for real protections when reporting. There aren’t enough inspectors. Workers get passed over if they report. We need union officials and members to collaborate to keep cases isolated and numbers visible.
  4. Finally we need to address the pay issue. TUF be calling on government to give a full wage to folks on lay-off in the building industry. TUF may face arguments against it, but workers’ unions are the voice of workers, not bosses.

The End: Zero-COVID
32-county ZERO COVID first. Stop the yo-yo lockdowns. When we do, we can manage our way back to the sites.

TUF needs to demand full wages for builders, protections when reporting, correct closures, and honest info.

A workers’ union doesn’t push to keep the sites open in the global hot spot during the height of the world’s first pandemic in the 21st century! Get the jab done, then get the job done.

Challenge the ‘TUF Guys’. If the trade union movement has a future, it can’t take the shortcuts. There are no shortcuts.

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