Many building workers encounter daily exploitation from agencies and gangmasters. Denied industry rates of pay to refusing and even access to Personal Protective Equipment, workers engaged in agencies and gangmasters are often vulnerable.
UCATT has unearthed terrible exploitation on site and has brought the national media spotlight to the operations of exploitative agencies. A key case that UCATT uncovered involved workers on a public sector hospital site being paid £8.80 per week in the Midlands area.
Our Executive Council has raised the issue with the Health and Safety Executive. EC member Denis Doody has challenged the agencies that flout health and safety requirements, ramming the message home that UCATT will expose and name and shame any agency, gangmaster or company boss that hurts our members.
UCATT has also collaborated in the production of a report into vulnerable workers, The Hidden Workforce Building Britain ith Manchester Business School and Community Links.
Our constant pressure has led to some positive changes. The Agency Worker Regulations were adopted in the UK in October 2011. While far from solving all the problems of agency workers, they are at least a step in the right direction. UCATT played a key role in getting this through Parliament with our work with the TUC On The Edge Group.
Meanthat agency workers are now entitled to the same “basic working and employment conditions” as a comparable direct employee. The rationale behind this is fairness, and be assured that UCATT will pursue any company found to be flouting these regulations. We are already working hard to close loopholes and bring about greater pay equality across the construction industry.
UCATT fights for workers being victimised and has lobbied the Government to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to construction. We have won the support of the Labour Party in this campaign but unfortunately MP David Hamilton’s Private Members Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament as the Conservative-led Government opposed it, claiming that the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) provided enough protection.
However, EAS’s powers are retrospective and statistics show that from 2008 to 2010 EAS secured only one conviction per year against any agency, none working in construction. UCATT will not accept that this is a real deterrent and we’ll continue to fight to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Authority into construction to protect our members.
Guide: Blacklisting and public procurement
Our new guide seeks to assist UCATT members in lobbying to stop public contracts going to firms that have blacklisted workers and have not made up for it. Download the Blacklisting & Public Procurement Guide now.