Opinion: Can the unions lead a construction strike?

Aaron Morby 11 years ago
Share

It’s all a bit seventies at the moment on the industrial relations front with angry mobs of electricians at site gates while talk of a one-day general construction strike next month rumbles around.

So are we about to enter an era of industrial unrest with sites being hit by stoppages?

In a word no, because the construction unions are in a fairly woeful state and simply don’t have a big enough support to stage any meaningful action.

Ucatt warned darkly this week of the “most extensive industrial relations ballot” in its history as public sector builders are encouraged to join an all-industry protest next month over pensions.

That’s one they may win because union membership is high in the public sector and workers are genuinely angry about their pension changes.

But in the private sector Ucatt membership is dwindling while the comical goings-on at the  union head office have ruined the reputation of a once-proud organisation.

Former general secretary Alan Ritchie is now suspended pending an investigation into alleged expenses irregularities after being removed from office after the election race was declared void.

Ritchie is still planning to stand in the re-run leadership race backed by a raft of officials still loyal to him.

No wonder the average construction worker would think twice about being led to the barricades by that lot.

Things are even more feisty on the M&E side where plans by eight major contractors to leave the JIB have caused uproar.

But the anger so far has been concentrated among the same group of demonstrators traveling from site-to-site.

Protests outside the gates have failed to sway salaried sparks to walk off the job and employers will hope the campaign runs out of steam before it can spread to site level.

Unite is now leading the charge but only after being pricked into action by the rank-and-file campaign which was the driving force behind the original protests.

The employers have been heavy handed in their attempts to modernise the M&E pay agreement.

But they will get away with it because their is no appetite in the current climate for construction workers to risk their jobs in an industrial dispute.

Latest news

Fire destroys conveyor belt at Silvertown Tunnel site

Forty firefighters battle blaze at huge London site
54 mins ago

Construction arm propels Mace to record profit

Revenue expected to top £2bn this year despite project delays
10 hours ago

Sisk fixes price on £227m Quintain flats job

Quintain signs single-largest contract so far at Wembley Park
11 hours ago

Rising costs tip William Hare to £3.6m loss

Specialist contractor falls into the red despite near 60% revenue rise to £220m
1 day ago

Safety blitz on “aches, pains and strains” on site

1,000 site visits planned in coming months to check how workers are moving heavy or bulky materials
1 day ago

Drones sent flying underground to check sewers

Traditional inspection teams replaced with latest technology
15 hours ago

Plan submitted for 470 Preston flats scheme

Stoneygate Central scheme on Dryden Mill site will rise to 16 storeys
14 hours ago

Graham starts £124m M25 Junction 28

Work on the 36-month Junction 28 upgrade includes constructing a major two-lane loop road
14 hours ago

Keltbray bags brace of energy infrastructure wins

Civils work on huge converter stations worth £30m to specialist
1 day ago

Balfour Beatty sole winner for £4bn Scape civils deals

Contractor reappointed to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and separate Scottish deals
2 days ago

PR expert Baroness Rock to chair Costain

Kate Rock will take up senior board role at the end of the year
2 days ago

Billington profit upgrade after strong first-half

Steelwork contractor says weaker pound will allow it to reignite its old export markets in Europe
2 days ago

Green light for £120m Liverpool “super restaurant”

Historic Pumphouse at Stanley Dock to be transformed
2 days ago

Tolent bags £15m Sunderland skills academy

Work to start later this year on Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy
2 days ago

Government launches net zero review

Pro-growth and pro-business review of net zero 2050 target launches
2 days ago

L&G Modular wins 400-home Wolverhampton job

Modular specialist wins 17-acre Canalside South regeneration scheme
2 days ago

£1.2bn A12 upgrade accepted for planning

15-mile Essex road upgrade between Chelmsford and Colchester aims for 2023/24 start
3 days ago

US consultant trumps WSP bid for RPS Group

Tetra Tech swoops but WSP could come back with new offer if bidding war breaks out
3 days ago

Sisk hands staff £900 cost of living cash boost

Firm also promises staff £400 Christmas voucher in November
3 days ago

Loathed IR35 reforms scrapped by Chancellor

Contractors will no longer have to determine tax status of freelance workers
5 days ago

Higgins signs deal for 740 West London homes

Work to start this autumn on two Hayes housing estate rebuilds
3 days ago

Kier wins Sefton net zero £36m school job

Deyes High School in Maghull will consist of 60 classrooms
3 days ago

Giant TBM cutterhead takes road trip to second drive

Balfour Beatty Vinci to drag remaining TBM back through tunnel for second bore
5 days ago

Fast-track 138-project growth plan – full list

Chancellor banks on road projects to lead growth plan recover
5 days ago

Kwarteng backs construction to lead “new era for Britain”

Planning rules to be ripped-up to speed infrastructure work as 38 new Investment Zones created
6 days ago

Green light for next two Manchester NOMA jobs

Work to start early next year on first of two major office buildings
6 days ago

Bouygues struggles to raise profitability

Loss-making contracts dent pre-tax profit at £835,000 from revenue up at £484m
6 days ago

Architect helps staff with £1,000 cost of living cash

P+HS Architects to make one-off payments this autumn
6 days ago

Sisk wins £69m rerouting of landslip-prone A59

Site clearance to start next month at Kex Gill in Yorkshire
6 days ago

Renewal race starts for £800m NEPO framework

Nearly 20 firms face fight to renew places on north east construction panel
6 days ago

Contractor services