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No Irish need apply: Polish builders get their own back

Published 02/01/2009

'No Irish need apply' - the signs are already going up on building sites abroad in a throwback to the grim days of the the last century.

But this time they are starting to appear in Poland as that country takes its revenge for the way in which some unscrupulous Irish contractors treated their countrymen during the years of the Celtic Tiger.

Trade union official Michael Kilcoyne - also president of the Consumers Association of Ireland - said it had recently been brought to his attention that the 'No Irish' signs had appeared on a couple of Polish building sites where workers were being sought.

Mr Kilcoyne said: "The reality is that our international reputation as employers has been sullied. Many foreign people who have worked here, especially during our boom years, have had bad experiences.

"The evidence of this is in the number of cases taken before the Labour Relations Commission over the last year or two in respect of unpaid wages or holiday money that was not paid.

"Ireland's name as a good place to work has been badly damaged by such contractors who held onto the money of their workers."

Mr Kilcoyne, who is a SIPTU trade union official in the west, revealed that he had personally won 14 such cases in Galway, while he believed there were hundreds, if not thousands, of similar awards made countrywide against employers and in favour of non-national workers who had been short-changed.

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