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New wave of Irish labourers earning up to £400 a day in Britain

<> on April 24, 2013 in London, England.
Crossrail manager says that hundreds of Irish tunnellers are lured by the high wages to work in London.

HIGH wages are luring hundreds of Irish construction workers to Britain, some from as far away as Australia, to work on London’s Crossrail project.

The move, seen as the return of the Irish tunneller, is being fuelled by the attractive sums on offer — often upwards of £400 per day.

That would put the highest paid tunneller, who would normally work seven days on/two days off, on potentially £100,000 a year before tax.

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North London-based John Small has over 20 years’ experience in tunnelling and construction in Ireland and Britain.

He has been working as a construction manager on Crossrail for McNicholas Construction for the past six months but is now helping other Irish workers, who are “following the money”, to get their foot in the door.

Small, originally from Granard in Co. Longford, says he’s helped up to 400 Irish workers sort out their CVs, qualifications and CSCS cards in the last six months alone through his business, Cricklewood Construction Training Services.

“The work may be hard but the money is good,” said Small, who estimates that 80 per cent of Crossrail’s tunnellers are Irish.

“Entry-level workers are getting a basic wage of £210 per day. Bonuses are awarded based on the amount of progress made by each ‘gang’ of workers, meaning a labourer could come out with an extra £160 on top of that basic rate.”

He added: “There are lads coming over to find out what’s going on. But you’ve got to get your cards right — you can’t move without a card in London.”

Several hundred Irish workers are employed across Crossrail’s multiple sites, according to a spokesperson for the scheme. The total workforce has just passed the 9,000 mark.

And following a massive drop-off in spending in Ireland since the downturn, it comes as no surprise that contractors carrying out the biggest construction project under way in Europe have been quick to snap up the Irish, who built up their skills working on major Celtic Tiger-era civil engineering projects like the M50 and the Dublin Port Tunnel.

“You’ve lots of boys from Donegal, Mayo, Connemara — other parts of the country too,” said Small. “When a job starts we’d all be aware.”

Donegal publican John McNulty owns and runs the Lucky 7 pub in Cricklewood — a hub for Irish construction workers in London.

A former ‘tunnel man’ himself, who worked on the Jubilee line extension in the 1990s, he gets regular calls from companies looking to hire qualified workers.

He said: “Just the other day the phone rang saying they were looking for four machine drivers.”

McNulty says there’s a constant stream of young Irish men turning up in the bar to find out what work may be on offer.

“You even get guys coming back from Australia — parts of Australia where they find it may not have been as good as they expected — and taking up work here,” he said.

“When they talk about back home the feeling is things may be picking up a bit in Dublin but not in Cork or Kerry or Donegal. But they’re more than happy to be here.”

The €17.3billion Crossrail project has been ongoing in London since 2009.

Due to open in 2018, it will run across the capital from west to east, with a central 21km section underground.

Massive 150-metre-long, 980-tonne tunnel boring machines are slowly snaking their way under the city, between the existing Tube network, sewers, electricity cables and underground rivers, at depths of up to 40 metres.

The tunnels are being constructed at a rate of 100 metres per week.

Last month, the dig unearthed skeletons belonging to victims of the 1348 Black Death.

The Museum of London is overseeing a number of archaeological digs that are taking place in tandem with Crossrail — one of the most significant is at Liverpool Street, where the remains of around 20,000 people were interred in the ‘Bedlam’ burial ground established in the 16th century.


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54 comments on “New wave of Irish labourers earning up to £400 a day in Britain”

  1. Martin John Delahunty

    In interested in the job you have. Im a bricklayer experance in working on a tillge and dairy farm,17 years experance. I live in Ireland at the momenent.Would like to send you my CV,
    Regards Martin

    • john small


      Give me a ring

      • Eoghan Caffrey

        hi, iv been working in construction for 14 years now im a hard worker and im very interested in working for you John small

      • Eoghan Caffrey

        hi iv been working in construction for 14 years im a hard worker and id love a job off you John Small

      • Tim

        Hi john small could you please mail me your email to



    • Cyril Kealy

      How did u get on with that john

    • Cyril Kealy

      How did u get on with that Martin

  2. Robert Proctor

    Hi, is it possible you could forward contact details, or an email address that you might have for John Small.Or could you forward on my email address( him. Im very interested in working on the crossrail project.


    Robert Proctor

  3. Graham

    Can someone send me the contact email or contact no
    for this tunnelling job in the uk to

    Regards graham.

    • john small

      can you ring me

  4. Gerard

    Can I get contact details to please many thanks

  5. paul

    Can you send me a link who hires electricians please.

  6. wayne cullen

    Wondering is any normal site labour jobs e.g clean up help ppl things like that thank you

  7. ahtshaam yusaf

    hi there if this is right can you send me contact details to my email address -

  8. michael kennedy

    could uou forward on contacts for these services please

  9. Patrick Diggins

    Please send any jobs regarding tunnelling work ,contact details for john small etc to

    • johnsmall

      Can you contact me on07725177926

  10. Gerrard Lee

    same here, i am very interested in this,

  11. Kevin o'hara

    Looking for a job on the
    Crossrail living in twickenham

  12. eoin mac muiri

    well im in london ,have cards for tunnelling can i get details for john small r sum1 can get me start in crossrail ,go raibh maith agat

  13. Robert Proctor

    I've been to Cricklewood and made contact with John Small. Here are his details;
    office: 02084524532
    mobile: 07725177926

  14. john small

    hi, this is john web

  15. Ger Queally

    i am a machine driver with twenty years experience with all Irish tickets
    please contact me thanking you Ger

  16. Ciaran

    Hows a going am interested in this job, Am from donegal and wondering is their much work going with you?

  17. Ciaran

    Hello am Looking to go over to London to work for this company if you can get back to me by e~mail be great kind regards Ciaran

  18. steven

    Hi i am a timed served electrician, currently i am doing an electrical degree but when summer rolls around again i will be looking for work. is it possible to get work with the Irish apprenticeship over there and any tips on best places to find work doesn't have to be a spark will do any type work. Many Thanks Steven

  19. Rafal

    Hello John!

    I am a machine driver with 10years exp in London,got blue cpcs for 360,telehandler,roller,dumper,first aid and sssts,been working on rail before and lul but cards expired.Could you help me get some 360 work on crossrail?

  20. Gareth brierley

    Hi can someone help with contact for machine drivers on cross rail!? 360 ticket,dumper,roller,first aid,water hygiene,triple s,slinger signaller just renewing. 15 years exp Cheers

  21. robert

    I was labouring for a plumbing crowd for 1 year and was an apprentice spark for 1 year is there any general labour jobs over there that would suit me??

  22. Eugene.

    Hi John any work for carpenters

  23. Hickey

    Hey currently living in London,any contacts for electrical work cheers

  24. gerard

    Would give anyting for a job, working in tunnells

  25. jonathan

    Fully qualified roofer side wall cladder from Ireland looking for work . Telescopic forklift operator. willing to take labouring work .

  26. Peter

    Hi im a general labourer. Im looking for a labourer excellent worker im from newcastle tyne and wear. Could you please email me if theres any labouring jobs going

  27. Enda McAllister

    2 man team of Joiners/Multi-Skilled, done shuttering work as well, looking work in England, have all 110 tools,CSR card, van if required, could you email me any jobs that would be going

  28. Luke

    Hi qualified electrican here living in london just got back from australia any details on who is hiring electrican or the best agency to go threw regards!

  29. john tauruno

    Hi been bricklaying for 18 years and have cscs card . Looking to work on the tunnel in london .any tel. Nos would be appreciated thanks.

  30. joseph boyce

    Young irish man looking for work hard worker would be willing to start on any job in the asking qualified banksman have the cscs done would be greatfull for any help

  31. padraig

    Any jobs for artic or tipper drivers on that job. Thanks

  32. ml butler

    hi I have 17 years experience on all types of diggers from 1,5ton to 24 ton ,can operate jcb at ease with fast digging ,can drive dumpers etc ,have experience in pipe laying aswell and concrete work ,if anything going you might respond

  33. Pj Doyle

    Hi 28 Irish from tipp I'm in oz at d mo to England this time next yr with English partner. I'm doing Formwork I'm a qualified chippy/cabinetmaker and iv done all sorts in between I'm on good mon here and I work for it so I want to continue the same in England I'd appreciate any feed back I have a few tickets already and willing to resit retrain or do more courses no prob cheers.

  34. Nick penny

    I am a vehicle body builder by trade working in hudraulics in perth aus at the minute. Have done several maintenance shut downs on factories have worked in design and production roles for Wright. Bus in northern Ireland where i got my apprenticeship in vehicle. Body building. I have worked for one of the main mining supply companies can anyone contact me with regards to working on this project +61415117573

  35. Kieran Duffy

    Hi my name is kieran and I would be very intrested in working for your firm I have been working in construction work for the past 15 years I would consider myself as a hard worker I have a safe pass and other tickets along with my first aid occupational level 5 if anyway you have and opening in your firm I would be very intrested in hearing from you

    Yours thankfully


  36. Joe mythen

    Hi there would like to apply for labour work please have been working for myself for last 20 years in ireland but due to lack of work I will be moving over to the uk shortly tks in advance joe 0872472949

  37. pat roche

    Hi is there any work on the tunnel for a mechanical supervintendent?

  38. Sean O'Neill

    Currently living in London working on projects throughout the London Underground. Would like to update tickets to recieve work on the crossrail projects if possible. Already have several tickets including city and guilds first aid NVQ3 and a St. John's ambulance first aid course. Would like advice on further tickets needed

  39. Raymond mc gurk

    Would be interested in a hob in tunnel e mail me thanks

  40. Raymond mc gurk

    Would be interested in a job in the tunnels e mail me thanks

  41. michael melvin

    I have english cpcs cards for wheeled and tracked excavators and all other types please send me info about the jobs

  42. philip dullea

    Hi john I am looking for work in the uk.I would do any labour work or a start on any apprenticeship work that be given I was working in building be very interested in working for your firm many thanks philip.

  43. paul rolston

    Hi Im looking for a labourers job I'm working all my life not afraid of hard work willing to travel to London if u can find me anything thank u

  44. George

    my name is George and I'm looking for a job at Crossrail over 3 years of experience in the construction .I worked as a laborer cipi, concrete gang can anyone help with a phone number or an agency that recruits workers

  45. peter heslin

    im looking for work, i have most of my tickets , i have my ssts supervisors nrswa npors 10 ton and above for diggers and dumpersim multi skilled as ive ran my own company as a hands on director, i have no cv but loads of good feedback, my company suffered with people going bust so im available, ive worked for johnny and patsy byrne for byrne bros for several years, ginger mick camden plant marron plant, freedom group of companies as a subbie an i can do all excavations and reinstatement , at the moment working for the kelly group ,ouch my number is 07980933086

  46. Allistair

    Any positions for experienced welder , heavy plant fitter machine operator with mining experience. .?


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