New research prompts union’s wish to see single independent labour inspectorate

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UCATT has called for the creation of a single independent labour inspectorate in the light of new research demonstrating the level of exploitation that regularly occurs in the construction industry.

The union wants to put an end to exploitative practices such as being paid cash-in-hand at below minimum wage rates and waiting in car parks to be hired.

UCATT’S acting general secretary George Guy said: “This excellent report delves into the dark corners of the construction industry and its findings are deeply unpleasant.

“It’s time that the government and the employers accept the unpalatable truths about how the construction industry operates. Only effective regulation by a strong enforcement regime will end exploitation in the construction industry.”

The Hidden Workforce Building Britain, which is in two sections, also provides a blueprint of how to end such practices.

The first section, Easy Pickings, Vulnerable Workers and Exploitation in the Construction Industry was written by Jamie Elliott of Community Links.

Elliott describes in detail interviews undertaken with vulnerable construction workers and details their experiences. These include working in slavery-like conditions, workers waiting in car parks to be hired and being paid cash in hand at rates below the minimum wage and he further details the dangerous and unregulated nature of such work.

The second section, Regulation and the Vulnerable Worker, was written by Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio of Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester.

Lucio sets out the current enforcement regime that exists to protect workers and the way in which the present system fails to ensure that workers are not exploited. He focuses on how workers in the construction industry have lower levels of protection then workers in sectors covered by the Gangmasters Licensing Agency (GLA)

The report calls for the creation of a single independent labour inspectorate, which would be based on the model already created by the GLA and would cover all industrial sectors.

The report argues this beefed-up body should have sufficient resources to dramatically increase its levels of proactive inspections in order to ensure that there is a major crackdown on exploitative employers.

This approach would be allied with a commitment to develop much stronger partnership workings with local communities and organisations such as the TUC and the CBI, in order to ensure that society becomes far more aware of the unpleasant and illegal circumstances that many construction workers are forced to work in.


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