Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

Unite: extend wage assistance to self employed

Help the million bogus self employed in construction

 

Unite is calling on the government to extend its wage support scheme announced last Friday (20 March), to protect the million plus workers trapped in bogus self-employment in the building industry, during the coronavirus crisis.

 

CIS protection

 

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, the vast majority were bogusly self-employed and paid on a weekly basis. A further 300,000 construction workers are paid via umbrella companies.

 

Recommendations 

 

Prior to the government’s employee assistance scheme being announced, Unite recommended that all self-employed workers who are taxed at source (which would encompass CIS workers) be treated as workers, and all workers including those paid by CIS, should be considered to be employees for the purpose of the scheme.

 

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, urgent action is needed to protect these workers who are denied even the most basic employment rights.

 

Precarious employment

 

The situation in construction is made even more precarious since the vast majority of major contractors employ few if any construction workers on their sites. Instead work is sub-contracted (often repeatedly) and workers are recruited via labour supply companies or agencies. If the decision is taken to close or mothball a site, the main contractor has no direct employment responsibility for the workforce.

 

Workers worried

 

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.”

 

Industry sick pay

 

The need for government intervention has been heightened as the industry has metaphorically washed its hands of the crisis. In early March, Unite contacted the industry and asked that the qualifying time on industry sick pay was waived during the crisis, so workers who were ill or needed to self-isolate as a precaution could do so and not infect others.

 

The reasonable and modest request has been rejected or ignored by the employers on all the construction industrial agreements. For example the JIB electrical agreement replied: “Whilst we appreciate the reasons behind your request, we cannot agree to an unfunded and potentially open-ended increase to JIB employers’ costs.”

 

Employer failure

 

Gail Cartmail, added: “Once again we have been provided with a clear example of how the industry does not take the welfare of its workers seriously, with profits rather than people being its bottom line.”

 

See details of Unite COVID19 helpline here

 

March 22 2020

POST A COMMENT!

Before Posting

We welcome debate and discussion on our website, but we also want an open, respectful, inclusive space in which forms of abuse or personal attack will not be tolerated. Comments will be moderated and will be removed if they are found to be unduly offensive. You should also be very careful in posting information about your employer. Employers do visit the website and if you think a comment could get you into trouble for releasing confidential or sensitive information, or for bringing the employer into disrepute, please do not post it. It remains your individual responsibility to ensure that what you post is appropriate. Please therefore just give a moment's thought to what you are saying. The types of comments that are likely to be moderated are:


  • Personal abuse or attacks on an individual.
  • Information which breaches another person's right to confidentiality.
  • The use of offensive language, including swear words, or language which is racist, sexist, or otherwise breaches equalities standards.
  • Anything that might place the Branch or the wider union in legal jeopardy.
  • Adverts or information which is posted for commercial gain.

* Name
* Email (will not be published)
Website
Comment
* field is required