Miller Construction and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services are building a new £22m emergency care centre at the Queen Elizabeth hospital.
Today’s protest comes exactly a week after construction union UCATT held a similar gathering at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, being built be Lend Lease and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.
UCATT is waging a campaign against the rise of umbrella companies paying fixed-term contract site workers.
The Gateshead job protest comes after the union claims it received reports that its members were being forced to work via umbrella companies.
This is resulting in them having to pay both employer and employee national insurance contributions, a total of over 25% of their eligible pay.
Union officials claim workers are often officially only paid the minimum wage with the remainder of their pay being supplemented by “profit related pay” or “expenses”.
The workers are also having their holiday pay rolled up into their rates.
Denis Doody, Regional Secretary for UCATT’s Northern Region, said: “Workers are being exploited on public sector projects. Workers are not receiving a fair days pay. It is disgusting that taxes which should be used to pay workers a decent wage are being diverted into the employer’s pockets.”
The use of umbrella companies to pay construction workers has increased dramatically after the Government in April introduced new measures requiring employment agencies and payroll companies to pay workers via PAYE.
The umbrella company model is being used to ensure that neither the contractor, the agency or payroll company is liable for increased cost.