Unions, led by Unite, the UK’s leading construction union, have submitted a pay claim to the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) seeking a 10 per cent pay increase in a bid to redress pay cuts and the galloping rise in the cost of living faced by its members.
Unite argues that with a construction output of £110 billion per annum, employers can easily afford to reward workers with wages that keep pace with living costs. The union warns that unless the industry begins offering decent wages it will result in the continuing failure to attract new starters.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Construction workers are highly skilled and are essential to the UK’s future prosperity. But they are fed up with years of wage attacks. So with growth across the sector now forecast, we’re simply asking that our members get their fair share of rewards.
“This pay claim reflects the urgent need to restore this workforce’s pay to at least a level that matches inflation, and we will not accept anything less,” she added. “Unite is the union which always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first and the union will be taking radical measures to ensure that construction workers secure a fair pay rise.”
The CIJC is the largest agreement in the construction sector and governs the pay and conditions of in the region of 500,000 workers (principally those in civil engineering and the biblical trades).
The union side is seeking a uniform pay increase which will see all workers covered by the agreement, from craft workers to labourers, see their pay rise by the same percentage.
In addition, the unions are seeking a considerable increase in industry sick pay and holiday entitlement to bring the CIJC in line with other construction agreements.
The pay claim comes at a time when the construction industry is experiencing a severe and worsening skills shortage, a result of the failure to train new entrants. Poor CIJC pay rates makes a career in the industry unattractive to new starters.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain noted, “For this industry to succeed and attract new entrants then pay rates must reflect workers’ skills and living costs.
“Unless radical changes are made to the CIJC agreement it will become increasingly irrelevant in the industry. The first step is to agree meaningful pay rates,” he added.
“The employers’ side must ensure that our agreement sets the benchmark for pay and conditions in the whole of construction. A failure to grasp the nettle during this year’s pay talks will lead to questions being asked about the relevance of the CIJC.”
The pay claim has been submitted this week to the employers’ side of the CIJC. Pay negotiations will be held throughout the spring and the anniversary date (when new pay rates should come into effect) is at the end of June.
By Barckley Sumner