On the face of it, we have never had a better opportunity to make or demand the changes that are necessary to fulfil our vision for a construction industry where our workers can flourish in a safe and organised manner. The two main evils in the industry continue to be agencies and no direct employment, and we may never get a better chance to make that difference, in spite of the inactions on most of our sites.
First of all, there are more lay members of Unite on the regional JIB and SJIB boards as well as the national JIB board. Secondly, the national combine will shortly be entering into negotiations with the five trade associations on the recommendations that have been recently approved. Thirdly, there is the government’s move to close the loopholes around bogus self employment and finally, employers are clearly rattled over the blacklisting investigations and the Scottish Government’s guidance that could lead to these companies being barred for tendering for public contracts.
It may not be evident to those working in the industry at the moment, but there is an opportunity to use this current situation to put further pressure on employers in order to bring about the things that we all want to see. Of course, that would mean an end to the cosy relationship that certain officials have with employers.
The opportunity is undoubtably there. Do we have the will and the resources to use this opportunity? In an earlier blog I mentioned the lack of a strategy within Unite and the structure that would make implementing such a strategy difficult, and although the Rank and File is motivated, I fear that Unite is not in a position to grab at it, as yet.
Is the time right? Maybe not.