The employers met representatives from three main construction unions this week to table an initial offer of a 4.5% pay rise over the next 33 months.
The offer, which would cover 500,000 workers under the national wage agreement, breaks down as a 1% rise in January, followed by 1% in September 2014 and then 2.5% in 2015.
Unions argued that since 2008 workers covered by the Construction Industry Joint Council agreement have seen their pay fall by 12% in real terms.
The unions are expected to put in a claim based on the prediction of four years of rapid growth.
Pay rates for construction workers working under the CIJC are lower than the other major industrial agreements in the construction industry.
Steve Murphy, General Secretary of construction union, UCATT, said: “Employers are treating their workers with derision and disrespect with an offer which would further cut workers’ pay in real terms.
“Workers are angry and will no longer accept poverty pay. The employers must make a realistic offer when talks resume.”
John Allott, Unite National Officer for Construction, said: “Our members will be furious that the employers are offering them a pay cut in real terms.
“Construction workers are already struggling to keep up with the rising costs of living and paying their bills. This pay offer does nothing to reward our members’ contribution and we believe that the employers are able to offer more.”
Phil Whitehurst, the GMB’s National Officer for Construction said: “The offer put on the table by the employers shows utter contempt for their employees, this attempt after pay freezes and low settlements in the past, to embark further in the race to the bottom on wages, terms and conditions for our members, has been derailed. Construction workers will no longer accept any more crumbs off the employers table.”
Pay talks are set to resume next month.