Union members staged a protest in Newcastle today against low pay on construction sites.
The demonstration was organised by UCATT and is part of a national campaign demanding a living wage of £7.85 an hour – £9.15 in London – for its members in the building industry.
In Newcastle it targeted the employment agency Hayes Specialist Recruitment Ltd in Mosley Street which, it says, supplies construction workers at rates as low as £7.28 an hour.
Denis Doody, Regional Secretary for UCATT, said:
“The blight of low pay in the construction industry is despicable. Companies are making huge profits, while workers are forced to work long hours in highly physically demanding roles, in all weathers, for peanuts.
“Companies expect workers to work long hours and then at the end of a gruelling week they don’t pay them enough to live on. Until construction companies start ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work we will keep exposing their greed.”
UCATT says it is concerned that on some adverts Hays Recruitment insists that candidates for jobs must supply their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The union says this is contrary to the law which clearly states that this should be supplied by the employer, who has a duty to ensure it is adequate for the job, properly fitting and the worker has been properly trained.
Mr Doody added: “Agencies need to be brought to book on their legal requirements regarding safety in the construction industry. Thousands of workers are injured every year and a major factor is companies that ignore and bend safety rules.”
A Hays spokesperson commented:
“We take our responsibility to meet our requirements with regards to the pay and health and safety of our workers very seriously.
“Pay rates are determined by employers in line with the industry, legislation and the local market.
“We work closely with our clients and have strict processes in place to ensure that we comply with the necessary legislations.
“We are unable to comment further on specific vacancies.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Jun 2015
The Scottish National Party has told the North East an independent Scotland would welcome its workers with open arms.
The SNP said the region should see independence as offering an alternative to London’s dominance over the North East, a claim few of the region’s MPs appeared to agree with.
Instead, there were warnings yesterday of border chaos and towns reduced to “currency exchange kiosks” if a yes vote is returned in this year’s referendum.
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield – Blair’s successor) led MPs yesterday in a parliamentary debate on the impact of independence on the region’s economy.
Citing a Journal report from last year in which First Minister Alex Salmond told the North East it had no better friend than Scotland, the Sedgefield MP questioned the reality of that relationship.
He said: “To the SNP’s internal Scottish audience, the English are those from whom the SNP wants independence, but to the North East of England, according to Alex Salmond, we are Scotland’s closest friends.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I would not close the door on my closest friends by asking for independence from the rest of the UK.”
> Scotland is our next door neighbour – a good deal closer than the London city state.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil denied the possibility that a new border would hinder trade.
He told MPs: “The point of the SNP is to put the Scottish people first, rather than power struggles in London, which, unfortunately, is the point of the London parties.
“It is all about who is in government in London, and that is not for the good of the people of Sighthill, Skye or Lewis.
“That is an awful tragedy. It should also be in our interest in Scotland to ensure that the good people of the North East of England are benefiting as much as those in the regions of Scotland.
“I look forward to the day I witness people from the North East of England finding chances of employment in Scotland, rather than having to go far afield to the South East of England.”
> Amen to that !
Berwick Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith said the fact was that day-to-day trade would be changed if Scotland broke away from the United Kingdom.
He said: “That activity is not impossible with independence, we should not overstate the case, but it would become more difficult and the likelihood of administrative barriers being erected is that much greater.
“There are a whole series of reasons why anyone living near the border, unless they see their future entirely as a town of currency exchange kiosks and smugglers, would think that we are much better together.”
Also warning against a yes vote was Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman. He told MPs: “The boundary between Scotland and the rest of the UK would, by definition, become an international border between two separate states, with everything that entails.
“The evidence locally in the North East, whether from farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce, is extensive.
> farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce… oh yes, very representive of the population at large – and, I suspect, two groups from which Mr Opperman draws his support come election time.
“There is huge concern that this will have an impact on trade, businesses and jobs.
> Bigger than that caused by policies imposed by the London-based ConDem government, unrepresented in the NE except by Mr Opperman ?
The possible problems rising from Scottish independence are conjecture. The problems caused by policies imposed from the London posh boys are REAL.
“I met a number of oil and gas producers, several of whom are building huge sites on the Tyne at the moment. The two biggest construction sites are for construction projects in the North Sea.
“The producers are concerned that, if there were independence, those projects would be affected, and there would be greater difficulties.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 05 Mar 2014