Representatives of the south east’s construction sector have had precious little to be delighted about in recent times.

However, the regional branch of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) used that very adjective when reacting to its national executive’s decision to reject the draft national pay agreement.

It has also backed CIF Chief Tom Parlon’s call for a 10 per cent reduction across the construction sector.

“The draft national deal proposed in September ignores the reality of where the Irish economy and the construction industry are today,” said CIF Southern Region Director Joe O’Brien.

“The bottom line is that the industry cannot afford the deal and is seeking a 10 per cent reduction in order to safeguard jobs in construction.”

Mr O’Brien stated: “A six per cent increase was never realistic at a time when cost inputs have risen sharply; the housing market is at a standstill with house prices already down by over 30 per cent and contracting companies are tendering eight per cent below costs in an effort to keep some level of work going.”

Many companies are currently borrowing to meet their existing wage bill, which is totally unsustainable and is driving companies out of business on a weekly basis, he added.

“In order, therefore, to protect the viability of companies and the jobs that are still in the industry the CIF is taking the example of the Government in seeking a 10 per cent reduction in rates.

“The economy and the industry are experiencing unprecedented challenges. Companies are desperately cutting costs in order to survive and it is incumbent on all parties, government, employers and workers to do everything in our power to see us through this period.”