Polish builders commute to work - in London

There was an article in the Meath Chronicle last week on this. It is on their website under most popular read news. I not very good on computers and am not able to do a link.
It says that some builders will go to work in London during the week and then fly back to Ireland on Friday nights

meathchronicle.ie/print.asp?stID=1334

Polish builders now set to commute to work…in London! - 24/11/2007
by Paul Murphy

The new commuter vehicle of choice for foreign building workers?YOUNG Polish men who rode the back of the Celtic Tiger during the years of the building boom are starting to commute to London to work on sites there in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics, a Navan trade union official said this week.

As the building boom shows some signs of slowing down here in the lead-up to the new year, Irish-based Poles - and other east European hod-carriers and brickies - are eyeing up fresh pickings in the UK, and in their home country.

With the Polish economy ready to take off, desperate developers and builders are offering double rates in a bid to tempt skilled workers to return. And there is the tempting prospect of an Olympic building boom in London over the next five years.

There are conflicting views about the state of the building industry here, with SIPTU union official Anton McCabe claiming up to 2,000 of a possible 8,000-10,000 workers of all grades in the industry in Meath either out of work, or existing from week to week in a shrinking employment market. The Construction Industry Federation (CIF), on the other hand, says there is so far no sign of a general slowdown, and points to last weeks Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showing an actual rise in construction jobs. However, all are agreed that the builders “good times” may be coming to an end.

A record 90,000 housing units of all varieties were built in the Republic this year. That figure is widely expected to be slashed to 45,000, at best, next year.

Anton McCabe of SIPTU said that, since July of this year, the union had seen an increasing number of building workers coming to them, having had their employment terminated or put under protective notice. He said that the indigenous workforce in the building industry were either anxious about future work prospects or had had their employment terminated after the August bank holiday weekend.

“We have been talking to economic migrants who came here during the building boom and quite a number plan to go to London. They may have been living here with their families for a number of years and now they are going to commute between here and London, flying out on a Monday morning and finding work with firms over there, and then returning on Friday,” he said.
He said that some tradesmen, especially those who are self-employed, were being employed “on a week-to-week basis”. Mr McCabe added: “They are definitely feeling the pinch. They are hoping that such-and-such a site starts up but it seems that there is a glut of new houses at the moment.”

Following the general election, there had been commitments made with regard to the building of social and affordable housing but it seemed that those promises would not be kept, he said. “The economy is almost totally dependant on the construction industry but, when the bottom falls out of that, there is no plan B.”

He claimed there were 2,000 building workers in Meath who were either out of work or had their jobs under threat, he said. He said he did not want to paint a bleak picture, but the situation in the north-east pertained throughout the country. There had been a time up to recently when workers had a choice of different jobs but that choice was no longer there.
Mr McCabe said he was also worried about the situation of building apprentices. “Some of them may be in their second year and, if they are laid off, they have to go and try to find another job. If it`s not there, their careers are put on hold,” he said.

“I`m very concerned that there is a downturn in the industry. The Government should give an indication to the industry that it is going back to growth, or as near to possible to full growth.”

Martin Whelan, head of public affairs with the CIF, maintained that the picture was not so gloomy. “According to last week`s CSO figures, employment in construction has actually gone up overall. A possible drop-off on the housing front is being made up from large civil engineering projects, office blocks and repairs to large public buildings,” he said.
He added that the indications were that housing output would remain strong during this year on the back of contracts signed in 2006. However, housing output would fall in 2008. It was expected that 45,000 housing units would be built next year, half that of this year.

There was also an indication that some of the employment lost in housing construction would be absorbed in large civil projects but he did not think that it would be totally absorbed.

He said that some work would be available for building employees as a result of the 2012 London Olympics. However, he compared the value of the Irish construction industry - €7 billion - to that of Irish building firms` involvement in Olympics building work - €700 million. “The rate of output in construction in Ireland is still very strong but I do see fears for next year,” he said.

Eamon Matthews, a voluntary worker with the Polish-Irish Club in Navan, said that the economy in Poland was on the rise. In some parts of the country, there was a three-year wait to get buildings constructed.
Building firms were having to up their rates to entice plumbers and electricians back from Ireland. “The infrastructure is being improved and there is a demand for labour,” he said. “From what I can see, some young Polish builders are going home and they are starting to repatriate their wives and girlfriends. But if there are children here, they are inclined to stay in Meath.”

Is the Navan trade offical saying that Polish workers are commuting from Meath to London?