On Monday 22nd April, workers at Garrivan O’Rourke – a company contracted to provide maintenance to Housing Executive homes in North and East Belfast and Lisburn – voted to occupy the company premises on the Boucher Rd to demand unpaid wages.
The Socialist spoke to Clifford, one of the workers who organised the action.
“We didn’t take the decision to start the sit-in lightly. When we had seen that none of us had been paid the previous Thursday morning, we were given assurances by management that the money would be paid into our accounts, so we gave them the benefit of the doubt that we would get paid on the Friday but it never happened. We were then told that we would get paid either over the weekend or on Monday morning. But when we still had not received our wages on the Monday, we met and agreed that we would not carry out work when we were not getting paid and decided to occupy the company premises in Belfast. We eventually received the weeks wages, but many of us were left with mounting bills and bank charges as a result, so we actually lost money.
“We had heard rumours that the company was in trouble and that it could be put into adminstration. For many of us this was our fourth company – some of us had previously been working for Red Sky who went bust. So none of us were surprised when the administrator arrived. The 25 of us are in limbo at the moment – we have been let go, but there are currently talks about going back to direct employment with the Housing Executive. We have not been fully paid our wages yet, we are still owed two and a half days wages.
“The outsourcing of work from the Housing Executive has been a disaster – these companies are out to make a profit and will cut corners and compromise on workers healthy and safety and conditions to do so. At the end of the day, workers get treated like appallingly and tenants get a worse service.”