Construction union Unite is warning that thousands of construction workers have been left in limbo over whether their site will be closed and if it is closed whether they will receive an additional day’s paid holiday. Due to the failure of the employers representative’s on the Construction Industry Joint Council, many workers may be forced to work on the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral.

Largest construction agreement 

The employer’s side of the CIJC, which is the largest industrial agreement in construction and underpins the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of construction workers, yesterday (Wednesday 14 September) refused to agree the trade union proposal that an additional day’s bank holiday be agreed in respect of her majesty the late Queen Elizabeth ll.

In a statement the employers said: “Taking all relevant factors that apply into account, it will be for each business/employer to determine how they will view the day, and whether time off, paid or unpaid, will be given.” Unite has already received an email from a major joint venture company on HS2 indicating that they do not require their contractors to pay workers holiday pay on the day of the Queens funeral unless additional bank holidays, such as the Jubilee, are covered in their agreements.

Detrimental decision

The decision not to honour the bank holiday marks a significant departure for the CIJC, which primarily covers workers in civil engineering and the biblical building trades. Previously it has honoured all additional bank holidays. The CIJC has blamed a lack of warning about the date of the Queen’s funeral for its decision. As the CIJC had previously set a precedent on their approach to additional public holidays, it is hard to see how the employers’ decision can be seen as anything other than a snub to the memory of the late Queen.

The decision by the CIJC not to agree one additional day’s paid public holiday, in order to allow workers to pay their respects to the Queen, is at odds with almost all other construction industry agreements. For examples the NAECI agreement (mechanical engineering) and both parts of the Joint Industry Board agreement (electricians and plumbing) have agreed to honour the additional paid public holiday.

Some employers acting decently

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Following pressure from Unite, workers on major construction projects such as Hinkley Point and the Silvertown tunnel are being paid for the bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral. These employers have taken the correct decision. It is to say the least inexcusable that the CIJC has not followed suit.”

Trade federations

The employers’ side of the CIJC is made up of individuals chosen by various construction trade federations including Build UK, which represent major contractors, the Home Builders Federation, Painting and Decorating Association, Scottish Building Federation, National Federation of Roofing Contractors, National Access & Scaffolding Confederation and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).

Abdicated responsibility 

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “The CIJC has abdicated its responsibility and left thousands of construction workers in limbo, not knowing if they are required to work or if they will be paid.

“This is a hugely disrespectful act to the Queen and the Royal Family. These CIJC employers federations have brought shame on the construction sector disrespected the Royal Family and ignored the mood of the nation.

“The cost of paying a worker an additional bank holiday equates to just seven minutes pay for every year that the Queen loyally served our country, it is peanuts for these construction employers.

“The construction trade federations and their members should be hanging their collective heads in shame. The federations now need to take a long hard look at who they have representing them. It is clear they need to appoint representatives who have a grasp of what is taking place rather than simply sending messengers. Who have failed the industry and the nation.”


For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.