Reinstate the “Murphy 4!”-BWI

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), representing 12 million workers worldwide, expresses its full support and solidarity to the four Unite trade unionists who were dismissed from their jobs by Murphy International, a company which is part of the giant Murphy Group operating throughout Ireland, the Unite Kingdom and Canada. 

Known as the “Murphy 4,” the said trade unionists, including a Unite shop steward, were employed at the Rusal alumina plant in Aughinish, Limerick, for the Murphy International. They are mechanical workers whose employment as fitters and welders represents 50 years of loyal service. According to Unite, the trade unionists were dismissed for simply holding a meeting on 6 August 2022 on how Murphy International should recognise its workers’ national travel expense agreements. Originally, 14 workers were suspended, but only those most associated with the union were sacked. 

"We deplore this assault on trade union rights, particularly the right to freedom of assembly and association, in solidarity with Unite. The Murphy 4 got punished for no more than holding a meeting to discuss how to best advance their legal rights as firm employees. This is obviously an attempt to intimidate workers into not standing up for their rights and to get rid of the union in the workplace. This is unacceptable. We demand the prompt reinstatement of the Murphy 4 and that the Irish government take all necessary steps to assist this effort, according to BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. 

Unite said that the dismissal of the Murphy 4 is in retaliation for a successful industrial action it conducted in 2013 which led to the Murphy International to respect national wage agreements. The lead organiser of the said action was elected shop steward, one of the Murphy 4. 

Murphy International Limited is the Irish subsidiary of J. Murphy & Sons (Murphy Group), a London-headquartered engineering and construction company owned by the Murphy family. The Murphy Group carries out construction and engineering activities across the transportstion, power, water, oil and gas, and construction sectors. 

In 2021, the Murphy Group was shortlisted as a bidder for a £2.3 billion works package to build the Lower Thames Crossing road tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Britain, through the Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV): Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons, with support from Mott McDonald and Ove Arup and Partners.

As a response, Unite wrote to Jean-Philippe, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Bouygues Construction, on May 5, 2023, to draw attention to Murphy International Ltd's dismissal of the four trade unionists and to use his influence as part of the Bouygues Murphy joint venture to urge Murphy International decision makers to meet with Unite to address its concerns. Unite also said that it is working with members of the British Parliament in Westminster to address the matter.