A “paltry” wage offer provokes a demonstration by construction workers

Dozens of construction workers gathered in central London on May 18 to protest against what they call a ‘paltry’ wage offer from the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC).

In February, the Unite union demanded a 10% pay rise for around half a million construction workers, arguing the increase was needed to meet rising living costs and attract more workers.

The group – one of two union representatives – also demanded an increase in sick pay and leave to match the levels of other construction wage agreements.

However, the workers protested outside a CIJC meeting after receiving a wage offer that fell short of the council’s expectations, estimated at less than 4%, less than half of what they are asking for.

The GMB has repeatedly called for a 10% pay rise, warning that a failure to raise wages could push more workers towards the exit door as the cost of living crisis takes hold.

It comes like Building News reported this week that companies in the sector paid out record bonuses in March in a bid to retain workers.

The GMB said it was waiting for an improved offer from CIJC and gave the band a June 28 deadline to settle the pay dispute.

GMC National Manager Charlotte Childs said: “The construction industry is facing an unprecedented skills shortage. Without meaningful improvements to the CIJC agreement, which establishes minimum rates for all grades covered by the agreement, the shortage will likely worsen.

“CIJC needs to show leadership by setting the right rates for this highly skilled and highly motivated workforce – not this pittance.

“Our members are here today, ahead of wage negotiations, to demonstrate the strength of sentiment among the workforce.”

The CIJC represents a large number of construction and civil engineering groups and governs the wages and conditions of approximately 500,000 workers (mainly those in the civil engineering and biblical trades). It is responsible for setting the rates of pay.

Job vacancies in the sector hit a record high of 48,000 in the three months to October and worker availability is expected to be a persistent issue this year.

Last month, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for the introduction of temporary visas for construction workers to ease the worst of the labor crisis.

CIJC has been approached for comments.

Alice F. Ponder