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First Agreement With A Yorkshire Council To Protect Construction Workers’ Rights

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Construction workers in Yorkshire could be set for a better deal from their employers taking on local authority contracts, after Wakefield council became the first council in the county to sign a ground-breaking employment minimum standards’ charter.

The Minimum Standards Charter, signed today (Wednesday 9 March) by council leader Cllr. Peter Box and the trade unions, Unite, UCATT and the GMB, pledges a set of minimum standards that must be adhered to on all construction projects that the council is involved in.

Firms involved in completing council construction projects will need to agree to the charter to ensure workers receive the minimum employment conditions. It is designed to stamp out exploitative industry practices, including ‘bogus’ self -employment and agency schemes, as well as umbrella companies.

The charter recognises the vital role trade unions play in creating safe and productive worksites, setting out an expectation that employers directly employ workers under the industry’s recognised collective agreements.

Commenting on today’s signing of this ground breaking charter, Unite regional officer Chris Weldon said: “We welcome the signing of the charter today by Wakefield council leader, Cllr. Peter Box. It is a first step towards stopping bad employers exploiting our members and protecting the industry’s collective agreements.

“Today’s groundbreaking agreement goes some way to ensuring that our members get the minimum employment conditions that they are entitled to. It covers everything from health and safety, appropriate facilities fit for the 21st century, to stamping out the bad employment practices that are rife in the industry.

“Construction work is dangerous work, made worse by the poor practices that have been allowed to take root. Agency working, ‘bogus’ self-employment and umbrella companies are some of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry.

“Workers are losing out on the most basic employment rights and entitlements, such as paid holidays, sick pay and pensions. By signing this agreement Wakefield council has pledged to stamp the practices that deny our members these basic rights.

“With the support of local Labour councillors we want to drive these bad practices out of Yorkshire and hope that this charter is the first of many to be signed by all major local authorities in Yorkshire.”

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