Wednesday 21 April 2021

Fighting for wages, conditions, and safety in the Welsh construction industry

"We gotta fight for the right To Sparkie!" This was the chant that rang out as even more sparks turned up this week at the Bouygues site at Cardiff University where HSO-using NG Baileys are working. Support is growing for decisive action to force Balfour Beatty and NG Baileys to back down with HSO, an attempt to force down wages and skill levels using Electrical Support Operative (ESO) grades instead of fully-trained electricians.

R&F organiser Andrew Wilkes sent a message to likes of Baileys: “Your latest offer from the ESO to the HSO, you just changed a letter! You just want to put labourers on a week’s health safety course and a 6-9 week course to teach them to put containment in. The Cardiff Sparks say No to ESO!”

Andrew also questioned how a site sponsored by the Welsh government was using companies that are so anti-union that they forced workers to remove Unite face masks.

Andrew is standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Welsh Senedd elections.

The Welsh government claims to be operating an ethical employment policy with contractors, but NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Still construction contracts are being signed with companies that are:

  • black-listing union activists
  • constantly attempting to de-skill the industry
  • driving down wages
  • using umbrella companies

We need workers’ representatives elected to the Senedd who stand up for workers to pressurise the government to implement its policy.

For too long our unions have handed money and support over to Welsh Labour and received very little in return.

Every public sector contract signed in Wales must only be made to an approved contractor who respects national agreements and does not seek to undermine them with ‘training’ schemes like ESO and HSO.

The contractor must also be held responsible for the practices of the sub-contractors who work for them.

And we need socialists in the Senedd who will fight for nationalisation of the big construction giants and a national construction plan that guarantees wage structures and conditions - vote TUSC on 6 May.

For previous and ongoing coverage of this campaign across Wales, see https://www.socialistpartywales.org.uk/

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