Opinion: Can the unions lead a construction strike?

Aaron Morby 12 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

McLaren gets green light for 45-storey Leeds tower

Landmark Wellington Square scheme will see 464 flats built with 360,000 sq ft of offices
2 days ago

Heavy rain causes 1.9% construction output fall

Hopes remain undampened of a resi-led recovery this summer
2 days ago

Taziker restruture to return to profitability after £1.2m loss

Founders bought the business back from private equity after last year's loss
2 days ago

£220m London wharf homes scheme approved

285 homes to be built beside protected Albert and Swedish Wharves in Wandsworth
2 days ago

Major project veteran named civils director for Sizewell C

David Speight previously worked on Hinkley, Heathrow and HS2 client teams
2 days ago

Morgan Sindall lands £19m Milton Keynes hospital job

Crane lifts to be carefully co-ordinated to ensure air ambulance remains active
3 days ago

Clancy bolsters civils leadership team

Daniel Tonkin and Simon Hyams join as operation directors of water and infrastructure
3 days ago

Balfour names new project boss for HS2’s super-hub station

Steve O’Sullivan replaces Nigel Russell who was promoted to CEO of Balfour's HS2 ops
3 days ago

Buckingham Group supply chain hit doubles to £256m

Total owed to unsecured creditors soars as surety providers finalise claims
3 days ago

Builders demand an end to police plant bans

Call to suspend all embargoes on moving mobile cranes and large site kit
3 days ago

Green light for £65m Blackpool multiversity campus

Education campus of 350,000 sq ft will be delivered in phases
3 days ago

Vinci signs £138m Sheffield steel forge expansion deal

Sheffield Forgemasters signs landmark contract after two years of pre-construction works
4 days ago

McAlpine hires HS2 programme boss to head defence arm

Armed forces logistics expert Mike Hickson takes role as MD of defence
4 days ago

£200m carbon capture plan for Deeside site

Energy from waste operator enfinium looking to invest in North Wales plant
3 days ago

McAleer & Rushe promotes five staff to contracts directors

Design and build contractor targets £500m revenue next year
4 days ago

Consultant quartet win Government estate upgrade deal

Government Property Agency selects Arcadis, Tetra Tech, AtkinsRéalis and McBains
4 days ago

Resi towers pioneer to transform Liverpool site

Beetham founder Hugh Frost to help develop 1,200 new homes
5 days ago

Construction Manager of the Year crowned

Galliford Try's Barry Kingscote wins coveted prize: Full list of winners
4 days ago

Landsec £250m London terraced office job approved

Skanska tipped for 20-storey Hill House scheme near Fleet Street
5 days ago

Lendlease tops March contracts league

BAM and ISG rank third with big contract wins
4 days ago

Vistry strikes deal with Homes England for 1,000 units

Firm's timber frames factory will supply most of the Midlands houses
4 days ago

Morgan Sindall go-ahead to build 23-storey Salford resi job

Funding deal with CBRE allows latest project on bank of River Irwell to proceed
5 days ago

Unite Students gains planning for London and Bristol schemes

RG Group will build landmark Stratford tower and Freestone Island projects
5 days ago

Rolls-Royce gets go-ahead for 1.1m sq ft expansion in Derby

Major expansion of Raynesway campus planned to met submarine fleet orders
5 days ago

GMI Construction edges back into profit

A year of controlled consolidation helped generate £0.9m profit but cash at bank dropped to £10m
5 days ago

Balfour gets final sign-off for HMP Highland at £209m

Deal struck for delayed Inverness prison after costs rocket
6 days ago

Renew buys bridge maintenance business

Contractor boosts highways division with £5m acquisition
5 days ago

HS2 tests market for £150m mass transit job

2.4km long elevated Automated People Mover to go out to tender in 2026
5 days ago

Cardo completes fourth acquisition in a year

Expanding Welsh building maintenance specialist reaches £170m turnover
6 days ago

Watchdog clears Heidelberg takeover of Mick George

Four quarries and five ready-mix operations to be sold to meet competition concerns
6 days ago

Contractor services