The prohibitive cost of securing a “ticket” which enables workers drive machines on construction sites is forcing self-employed drivers away from the industry. That is the view of the Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony, who has called on the minister with responsibility, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan TD to review the pricing structure which has rocketed since the course was taken over by FÁS last year.
According to Dep O’Mahony, 12 months ago a “ticket” cost a driver €300 but now the same ticket can cost anything between €900 and €1,700. “Before anyone is allowed drive a machine on a site they must be in possession of a ticket, essentially it’s a licence to allow them drive. Heretofore, industry agencies took responsibility for issuing the tickets whereby a driver attended a one-day course at a cost of €300 and on successful completion he received his ticket.
“However, about one year ago FÁS took control and the entire procedure changed. Drivers now have to go on a four-day course to gain their ticket and the cost has increased almost fourfold. Some companies will pay for the course but with many drivers self employed they are finding it hard to justify taking four days unpaid leave to take the course. It’s not just the course fee they have to pay; for many of them they have to travel and spend four nights away from home and that’s another significant cost.
“The extra cost is forcing people away from the construction industry, particularly the self employed. The construction industry is suffering at the moment and even established firms will think twice about spending big sums of money on sending employees on four-day courses. It’s an issue that needs to be reviewed by the Department and I’ll be writing to the Minister to bring the matter to her attention,” said Dep O’Mahony.