Sir, I have been a construction worker for 29 years and until last year was proud of the industry I had chosen.
I started as a lowly labourer, progressing to pipe-layer then ultimately a plant driver. I always credited this industry with a sense of fair play ? if a person can do the job and has the relevant certificate they've got the chance to prove themselves ? until last year.
I was working on a site in Cambridge and was surprised to be working with a female slinger/signaller. I have never met a female on site in any capacity other than cleaner/ canteen staff. Being from the North, and possessing a sense of fair play, I gave her a fair crack of the whip.
At the beginning of the work she was understandably slightly nervous at the prospect of being in charge of the crane I was driving but after a day or two she settled down and with a little prod in the right direction became a bloody good slinger/signaller. Over the months I learned she had paid for the course at Bircham Newton in Norfolk herself and that despite the odd rant and rave from idiot subcontractors she truly enjoyed doing the job, even though she was up to her ears in mud and blather.
I have to admit she finished up one of the best banksmen I have ever worked with.
What dismays me is since finishing at this site she has had the odd job slinging here and there and managed to get a job slinging on a motorway, which, through no fault of her own, she was dismissed from.
She has phoned nearly every company in the country and with the exception of ONE has been on the receiving end of patronising attitudes, which fills me with dismay, disgust and shame.
I cannot believe an industry I have regarded as honourable but rough is not prepared to give this lady a chance to grow into the kind of slinger/signaller this industry sorely needs.
Too often I have arrived on a site, been introduced to the banksman after an induction, started work and found him to be completely incompetent ? I wouldn't trust them with a wheelbarrow, and half-way through a blind lift the idiot has taken his eye off the load and walked away, letting it strike the scaffold!
Yet here is a lady who enjoys the job, is extremely competent and can't even get her foot in the door because when they find out she is applying for the role and not her partner/husband she is fobbed off with excuses.
I find this absolutely shameful, and I think middle management ? which is where the majority of the problem lies ? should read this and be disgusted with themselves. Even agencies, of which there is a plethora milking the workers, don't get back to this particular lady. It's very wrong in this day and age.
M Rimmer Cambridge