CONSTRUCTION UNION Unite has called for the Government to extend its 80% wage guarantee to protect the million plus workers in what it refers to as “bogus self-employment” in the building industry, during the coronavirus crisis
Unite is in the process of urging the government to extend its wage scheme to immediately cover workers paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and those paid via umbrella companies and payroll companies.
A Freedom of Information request made by Unite last year found that 1.03 million construction workers were paid via the CIS scheme in 2018/19.
A further 300,000 construction workers are paid via umbrella companies.
Workforces shedding staff
With construction sites in the UK already reducing the number of workers employed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and further closures expected in the coming weeks and months, the union is calling for urgent action to protect vulnerable workers.
If the decision is taken to close or mothball a site, the main contractor generally has no direct employment responsibility for the workforce.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The UK’s bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers will be deeply worried that if they are officially self-employed they will not be protected by the government’s scheme.
“Most construction workers are the primary breadwinners in their family and swift action is needed to ensure that they are protected throughout the coronavirus crisis.
“Over half of the industry is officially self-employed, with most of those bogusly self-employed. This is part of the hire and fire culture existing in construction which results in workers being dumped without warning or compensation during downturns.
“In the short term the million plus workers paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and the 300,000 plus workers paid through umbrella companies must be brought into the scope of the government’s wage support scheme and Unite will be lobbying government to ensure that occurs.
“In the long term a commission is needed into construction employment to ensure that workers who survive on a feast and famine existence secure proper employment protections.”