Unite Scotland has today (4 June) called for the Scottish Government to legislate on the mounting challenges facing the nation’s construction sector. The union is requesting that the Scottish Government take action to enforce current regulations and where necessary legislate over the constant collapse of construction companies. If procuring for value is established this should include a straightforward implementation of the current procurement policies and regulations whereby no worker on any large public sector construction project is engaged on terms that are inferior to those collectively bargained in the construction sector.
Unite members at the Midlothian based Crummock and Paisley based Lambert construction firms are facing redundancy following collapse. Around 400 jobs will be lost. Unite will be calling local meetings with the affected workforce to discuss legal options. The collapse follows the construction giant Carillion going into liquidation effecting 20,000 jobs across the UK. Unite members in Balfour Beatty in Kintore, Aberdeenshire, also lost their jobs in March this year.
Unite has been aware for some time that the construction industry in Scotland is increasingly precarious. Laing O’Rourke recently released figures highlighting a recent £67 million pre-tax loss. The latest industry data has indicated that across the UK new order books have contracted for the fourth time in the past five months. At 52.5 in May, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction PMI was also the same as that recorded in April, indicating weak growth.
Unite is campaigning for a Construction Charter which is being supported by some local authorities across Scotland. The Charter, if implemented, would ensure the development of a positive approach to procurement across the public sector. Features of the Charter include direct employment of all construction workers, the implementation of collectively bargained agreements, trade union recognition, quotas of skilled apprenticeships, and a zero tolerance approach to any form of contemporary blacklisting, a practice that has plagued the construction industry for decades and remains a blight on the construction industry to this day. Unite also supports the full devolution of employment law, full control over skills and apprenticeships, which would significantly assist in addressing a number of the challenges the industry faces.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Stevie Dillon said:
“Yet again workers employed on big ticket Scottish construction contracts are being cast aside, their employment rights run roughshod over. Crummock was a major subcontractor on the new Sick Kids Hospital development in Edinburgh. They supplied subcontracting services to the City of Edinburgh Council.
It’s high time the Scottish Government intervened and legislated before more companies go to the wall. Too often, indeed on every major construction infrastructure job of significance across Scotland, Unite has discovered that the workforce responsible for building these vital resources are being ruthlessly exploited by a myriad of construction contractors and agencies that utilise Umbrella Companies in order to absolve companies and agencies from responsibilities to both employees and the state.”
For more information contact Stevie Dillon on 07894414597.