Unions representing workers employed under the largest collective agreement in the construction industry have described the employer’s paltry pay offer as “insulting”.
Pay talks for the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) which covers the pay and conditions of around 500,000 construction workers, were held on Wednesday 9 March.
The unions involved Ucatt, Unite and the GMB, were especially shocked that employers offered a paltry 3.5 per cent increase spread over two years, especially as the CIJC has far lower pay rates and benefits than all the other construction industrial agreements.
The very low offer comes at a time when the construction industry is expanding and there is a growing demand from workers for rates to rise and catch up in real terms for the losses they suffered during the recession.
There was further dismay on the union side that employers ruled out paying the London living wage be paid to workers in the capital. Currently the lowest paid workers in the agreement are paid nearly a pound an hour below the London Living Wage.
Brian Rye, acting general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said: “To describe the union’s position as bitterly disappointed would be an understatement. This offer was spiteful and pathetic in its meanness. Union negotiators believe that the employers are effectively trying to undermine the agreement and that unless a realistic offer is made there is little point in holding further negotiations.”
Unite national officer John Allott said: “The employers need to get real over this insulting pay offer which falls well short of the expectations of our members. The pittance on offer is out of kilter with the rest of the construction industry and fails to recognise the sacrifices workers made during the tough times.
“The employers need to stop using the agreement as a minimum and get the agreement into the 21st century. A failure to make the agreement relevant and attractive to highly skilled construction workers could see people desert the industry and much needed young apprentices choose a different career.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for construction, said: "The derisory two year deal of 3.5 per cent overall has been unanimously rejected by GMB, Unite and Ucatt and makes the trade union side wonder if this group of employers really want this agreement at all.
“In terms of remuneration, the CIJC working rule agreement is by far the worst agreement in the UK construction industry and these employers have now taken that to a pitiful race to the bottom.
“After many years of low pay rises and pay freezes, the Office for National Statistics average weekly earnings dataset shows a rise in construction earnings of around 6 per cent for the year to September 2015, we request the employers come back with some realistic figures at our next meeting on 22 March.”
For further information contact Barckley Sumner (UCATT) on 07802 329235 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Alex Flynn (Unite) on 0203 371 2066 or 07967 665869, Phil Whitehurst (GMB) on 07968 338810