Builders forced to stop working over unsafe sites, not taking leave
Building companies were forced to stop working and some had to pay thousands of euros in fines because staff were still working during their annual leave, sites were unsafe or workers had been hired illegally over the summer.
Luxembourg’s labour inspectorate carried out 185 checks on building companies between the end of July and 23 August - the period when the entire construction sector is supposed to down tools for a collective annual leave.
Every year, the authorities give just a few companies an exceptional right to continue working throughout the summer period. But because of the floods the country suffered in July, the authorities allowed almost 190 construction companies to carry on working to repair damages to buildings and roads.
“As a result of the flooding, this year, as was the case in 2019, exemptions have been granted in exceptional cases and at late notice,” the inspectorate said last month.
But despite the exceptions, six companies were forced to stop working because they had not been given special authorisation to continue during the annual leave and 10 construction sites were deemed unsafe to work. Two companies had to pay a fine of €7,500 and €2,500 for employing non-EU workers without a residence permit.
The sector has suffered a number of hits over the past year. Construction had to come to a halt in March last year during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Last summer, workers’ and employers’ unions locked horns over whether the three-week annual leave should go ahead because the sector had already shut for a month due to the lockdown. The break went ahead as planned after the unions failed to reach an agreement.
The sector was hit again earlier this year after a global shortage in construction materials meant several high-profile projects in Luxembourg, such as the EU Commission building and three secondary schools, would be delayed.