Bogus self-employment is rampant in the construction industry and the Government must move immediately to stamp out this practice , the inaugural Connect trade union conference will hear.

The general secretary of Connect Paddy Kavanagh said research indicated that the State was losing out on up to €300 million in tax and PRSI as a result of bogus self-employment arrangements, where a worker is forced by an employer to declare themselves as self-employed rather than employees.

He said the practice also resulted in workers being denied key rights and safeguards.

Speaking at the start of the conference in Limerick, Mr Kavanagh said: “The Government has committed to end this practice but we are yet to see any decisive action on a practice that remains widespread in a growing construction industry.

“Our members are already committed to conducting a protest campaign where they visit sites where there are reports of bogus self-employment to show employers engaged in this activity the ‘red card’.”

“However, it is Government action on this issue which is the most effective. I am calling on the Government and civil service to get a move on with the Protection of Employment (Measures to Counter False Self-Employment) Bill 2018. It was passed by all parties in the Seanad earlier this year and must begin its process through the committee stage before the close of this year, otherwise it is clear the Government is not serious about tackling this issue.”

Delegates at the conference will also hear calls for an increase in the number of apprenticeships for women in the trades and the implementation of a public house building programme.

The Connect trade union was established by the formal merger of the TEEU and UCATT in January this year. It has over 40,000 members and is the largest organisation for craft workers in the country, including in its membership those employed in the skilled technical, engineering, electrical and construction sectors.

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