The Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Contractors Association (MEBSCA) says it is urging workers not to picket after the Unite trade union announced strike action at two companies next week.

Plumbers, pipefitters and welders at Leo Lynch and H.A. O'Neill (Jones Engineering) voted by over 90% to take industrial action in a dispute over the restoration of a travel payment which was cut following the 2008 financial crash.

Unite says that the restoration of the first hour of "travel time" would mean an increase of up to 12.8% in gross pay at a time when workers continue to be hit by the cost-of-living crisis.

The strike action is due to take place on 10 March.

In response, MEBSCA said it reached a pay agreement with Unite last year.

"This claim is simply unsustainable and comes at a time when material and energy cost inflation is having a considerable impact on the construction industry," the association said.

MEBSCA said that union's claim for an additional hour's travel was rejected by the Labour Court last year and that in 2011 agreement was reached to incorporate the payment into hourly rates.

The association said that the workers concerned are covered by a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) which sets out the legally binding rates of pay and conditions of employment, and that the two companies that have received strike notice have honoured all agreements entered into with the unions.

"We are urging workers not to picket and for Unite to channel its claim through the SEO process," MEBSCA said.