Unite boycotts awards ceremony over sparks dispute

by - 7th October 2011, 7.30 GMT

Unite is to boycott a prestigious construction industry awards ceremony in Glasgow tonight as rogue employers, wanting to slash pay by 30 per cent, will be at the swish black tie occasion.

As the bosses look forward to tucking into top Scottish fare and fine wines at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Unite said it would be boycotting the Select Electro Technical Awards because seven leading construction companies are trying to steamroller cuts to pay and conditions by an arbitrary 7 December deadline.

The seven employers, including a winner at last year’s event, Crown House Technologies, want to tear up five national agreements that have been in force in Scotland for the last 40 years.

Unite regional officer Rab Sherry wrote to the organisers saying: “It is, therefore, our view that Unite should not attend this year’s ceremony when the likelihood is that those intent on imposing these changes will be present and, quite frankly, our attendance would send out the wrong messages to our members.”

Construction workers will protest outside the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in Agyle Street from 6.00pm on 7 October – an hour before the event starts.

The actions of the employers have sparked demonstrations from construction workers across the UK, as thousands of skilled employees face the sack from 7 December, unless they sign draconian new contracts that could see their pay pockets slashed by up to 30 per cent.

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 rogue employers want to introduce semi-skilled grades and dictate rather than negotiate on pay, holiday entitlement, overtime, and what constitutes away work.

Unite regional officer, Scott Foley said: ”The construction industry in Scotland is a major engine for economic recovery, yet these rogue employers want to sabotage long-established agreements in the industry.

”This could mean that thousands of skilled construction workers from the Shetlands to the Borders losing their jobs, unless they accept these new draconian contracts that could see their pay packets slashed by up to 30 per cent.

”We know that important clients of these companies are very unhappy about this course of action as they see this as a recipe for on-going industrial unrest – a situation that Unite wishes to avoid, but not at the expense of our members’ income.

”As a sign of our disgust at these rogue employers attending this award ceremony, Unite will boycott the event.”