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19 January 2018

Carillion and the construction industry

The following letter by Socialist Party member and construction worker Jimmy Tyson was published in the Liverpool Echo earlier this week:

Recent events surrounding construction giant Carillion have exposed the problem in general within the construction industry.

The media are reporting that thousands of jobs are at risk as a result of recent financial problems. But the reality is, that the majority of the men and women working on not just Carillion sites but all construction sites across the country have for years been living in fear of job insecurity.

The construction industry prefers to employ workers through bogus self employment, CIS [Construction Industry Scheme], umbrella companies and using exploitive employment agencies, all in order to exempt workers from employment law, notice period and holiday pay.

They have consistently tried to de-skill the industry with things like BESNA in order to employ unqualified electricians at a lower rate and modulisation to reduce the amount of qualified skilled workers needed on site. Also exploiting migrant workers, paying them less than their British counterparts.

Carillion refused to work with Unite the union in agreeing a national agreement when statistics show that unionised sites are safer, more productive sites.

In their drive to drive down wages what they ended up with was a load of unqualified workers and agency workers working on a week to week basis with no loyalty to a company who refuse to directly employ them; and no motivation.

This is why jobs have taken longer to complete - because of the total disrespect shown to hard working construction workers.

This isn't just a problem for Carillion, so all the other construction giants need to get their houses in order as this is the future of the industry if they don't end bogus self-employment, cooperate with trade unions and allow their sites to be fully unionised and start directly employing qualified trades men and women and paying union recognised rates of pay.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 January 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.