Crane drivers have suspended tomorrow's planned strike to allow for talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Unite Organiser Tom Fitzgerald said that the union will refer the dispute to the WRC tomorrow and it is hoped there will be a hearing next week.

He said the Construction Industry Federation was expected to agree to attend.

As yet it is unclear if the talks will include SIPTU, who have been engaged in a bitter inter-union row with Unite over alleged poaching of members.

The Construction Industry Federation said earlier that ongoing strikes by crane operators on building sites had cost the construction sector almost €7.5 million. 

The crane drivers belonging to Unite mounted intermittent stoppages on sites in pursuit of a significant pay increase.

The dispute is further complicated by the fact that SIPTU has traditionally represented crane operators, and won a formal complaint to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions against Unite about poaching SIPTU members.

After surveying nine-member building firms operating on 27 sites, the CIF put the overall estimated cost to contractors over the 15 days of industrial action at €7,432,500.

The CIF claims the value of the sites affected is almost €1.2 billion.

Employees on affected sites on the 15 days of strike action lost wages totalling nearly €6.7 million.

The CIF estimates the turnover cost at over €45 million.

Construction firms could also face potential penalty fines for delays at €1.6m per week.

The CIF notes that these figures may understate the cost of the dispute, as there are around 45 sites with cranes in Dublin.

Unite was to have pickets outside two Sisk sites at Capital Dock and one Sisk site at Grand Canal Dock tomorrow morning.