The Government must re-open the construction industry on April 5th, or it will cause untold damage.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice issued the stark warning ahead of next week’s expected announcement from the Taoiseach on revised Covid restrictions from April 5th.
Speaking on the subject, Fitzmaurice said: “We are currently haemorrhaging skilled workers from the construction industry, as they have been forced to travel abroad for work to continue earning a living.”
“If we do not re-open the construction industry on April 5th, then untold damage will be caused. Workers have had to leave our shores and their families to find work.”
He stressed that construction firms are on the brink of “financial disaster”, with no money coming in and payments due on machines.
“Thousands of people who have stressfully jumped through all the hopes of getting a mortgage to build or renovate their new home face the prospect of having to complete the application process all over again due to the delays experienced as a result of the level 5 lockdown introduced at the beginning of January.”
“If we continue down this road, then the construction industry will be severely stunted, and it will struggle to reach the capacity levels it was at prior to Covid 19 entering our lives.”
Unable to avail of moratoriums of payments
He said those who are currently not working due to the restrictions, are under significant financial pressures. He highlighted that many of them, particularly subcontractors, have repayments to make on machinery needed to carry out their work.
“They are not able to avail of moratoriums on payments, and the financial reserves they had available to them prior to Covid-19 are all but exhausted.”
“If these contractors are expected to continue indefinitely without certainty of when they will be able to return to work, then many of them may be faced with only one option – to close up shop completely.”
“This would mean the loss of jobs as well as reduced capacity to carry out construction work when the lockdown is finally lifted – at a time when the Government is trying to ramp up house building.”
“As well as that, if there is a reduced number of firms to do the work, then the cost of the work will inevitably increase due to reduced levels of competition.
Furthermore, he stressed that those working in the construction industry have faced many false dawns. He believes these need to be able to get back to work from April 5th.
“While some projects have been allowed to continue, there has been no major reports of outbreaks on these sites.”
He said the construction industry can adhere to the social distancing guidelines and other Covid 19 protocols to ensure workers are safe.
Concluding, Fitzmaurice urged NPHET and the Taoiseach to “make the right call”.