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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


“Con”?-struction Charter

by New Worker correspondent

IN DECEMBER 2018 SNP-run Dundee city council and the trade unions signed a ‘Construction Charter’ that pledged to ensure that, through the procurement and delivery of council-backed building projects, there are high standards in relation to employment status, health and safety, training, and nationally agreed terms and conditions. At the time the council boasted: “The charter is there to ensure that our relationships with contractors and their subcontractors is fair and above board.”

Now Unite the Union is complaining that an agency called O’Neil and Brennon is employing construction workers through an umbrella practice on the construction of some residential homes in at the city’s Hill Street. Agencies attempt to force workers in to so-called ‘umbrella companies’, particularly in the construction sector, to off-load national insurance contributions and other benefits to the detriment of the workers.

Amongst the requirements in the charter it specifically states that: “Operatives are directly employed on a PAYE basis under a contract of employment.” Neither the council nor the main contractor, the Robertson Group, have denied these serious allegations.

George Ramsay, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The allegations of umbrella practices by an agency working on the construction of homes in Dundee is outrageous. It’s only a few months ago the ‘Construction Charter’ was hailed as a major step forward in rooting out illegal and bad practices by companies and agencies in the construction sector.”