Construction workers faced with signing ‘take it or leave’ contracts are today demonstrating at three sites across the UK.
Around 1,000 electricians, plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers are staging protests in Lanarkshire, Liverpool and London after being told they would be sacked if they did not sign a new deal on inferior pay, and terms and conditions.
The new contract could see pay being reduced by 35% and the imposition of semi-skilled grades.
A Unite spokesperson said: “We shall be reading our employers the riot act. We shall send out a loud message that we shall not accept the de-skilling of our trades and have our wages cut by a third.
“Our members spend many years training for their trades, and they want to be able to pay their mortgages and support their families.”
The protests are part of a national dispute Unite is having with seven breakaway companies who have been written to their workforce with a stark choice – sign new contracts on much inferior pay, and terms and conditions or face the sack on 7 December.
The employers want to withdraw from five long-held agreements and replace them with a new agreement which will allow employers to introduce semi-skilled grades and dictate rather than negotiate on pay, holiday entitlement, overtime, and what constitutes away work.
But five of the seven have upped the stakes. Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and NG Bailey have issued Unite with legal notice of their intention to dismiss, with notice, thousands of employees before re-engaging them on new inferior contracts.
* The demonstrations will take place at the following places: Cambuslang Fire Station, Clydesmill Industrial Estate, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire between 6.30am and 8am; Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN at 7am; Park House (site opposite Selfridges near Oxford Street), London between 6.30am and 8am.
* More protests are planned for the coming weeks. To see a UnionNews film of last week’s protests, click here