UCATT’s umbrella company motion wins unanimous support
A motion calling for support for UCATT’s campaign to end the exploitation of workers in the construction industry by agencies and so-called umbrella companies won unanimous support at last month’s TUC Midlands Region Annual Conference.
Midlands Regional Secretary Shaun Lee told delegates: “These workers have no choice but to sign a contract agreeing to payments via the umbrella company and are forced to pay as much as £30 per week for the “privilege” of being paid.”
UCATT has highlighted these and other exploitative practices on projects including the Nottingham tram and Pebble Mill site in Birmingham. Workers employed via umbrella companies are also often employed on zero hours contracts with exclusivity clauses, have “rolled up” holiday pay and are forced to pay both the employee and employer national insurance contributions.
The motion calls on the government to introduce measures to end “this immoral and exploitative practice.”
UCATT Midlands Regional Secretary Shaun Lee speaking on umbrella companies at the TUC Midlands Region Annual Conference in Birmingham.
UCATT calls for zero exposure to asbestos
“Construction workers are now at the greatest risk of dying from asbestos-related conditions,” UCATT Executive Council member Neil Vernon told those gathered at a recent Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST) event in Chesterfield. “Carpenters who were heavily exposed to asbestos below the age of 30 have a 1 in 10 chance of developing mesothelioma.”
He pointed to the findings of a recent health and safety survey of UCATT members which found that 38% of members who responded believed that exposure to asbestos was a major safety concern. The same proportion did not believe that their employer had adequate procedures in place to prevent exposure to asbestos, and 36% believed that they or their colleagues had been exposed to asbestos in the last 12 months (http://www.ucatt.org.uk/ucatt-safety-survey-exposes-industry-failings).
And he set out the reasons why many workers continue to be exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. These include:
poor quality of information and an over-reliance on information in asbestos registers;
human error in sampling surveys;
an over-relaxed attitude to DIY by social housing landlords;
a lack of communication to workers about the presence of asbestos; and
a failure to enforce safety law as a result of government cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) budget.
“UCATT policy is simple,” he said. “There should be zero exposure to asbestos.”
UCATT Executive Member Neil Vernon outlines UCATT's a zero exposure to asbestos policy.
United We Stand production sells out in Derby
UCATT General Secretary Steve Murphy introduced last month’s sell-out performance of United We Stand at Derby’s Guildhall. The play tells the story of Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson, the 1972 Building Strike and the Shrewsbury Pickets. The event took place during Fair Pay Fortnight (http://fairpayfortnight.org/). There is another chance to see the production in Nottingham later this month as is spring tour continues (see www.townsendproductions.org.uk/tour-dates).
UCATT Midlands Regional Secretary Shaun Lee campaigning for fair pay at a production of United We Stand in Derby.