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Call to soothe foreign worker anger

An agreement signed more than 25 years ago could be the solution to the alleged problem of foreign workers undercutting UK construction workers, according to a legal expert.

Beachroft law firm partner Nick Chronias said the industry should stick to the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry.

Wildcat strikes have hit construction sites across the UK during recent weeks amid claims that cheaper foreign workers are being employed at the expense of locals.

But Mr Chronias said that revisiting the NAECI agreement would rule out the possibility of “cheap overseas labour” because the same employment terms would have to be applied to all workers on a project.

Mr Chronias said: “The NAECI agreement has played a significant part in reducing the amount of employee relations disputes on sites in the past.

“It is a good example of how the industry, working constructively with trade unions, has improved employee relations. That model of co-operation could replace strife in the difficult times ahead.”

NAECI was introduced in 1981 following a number of strikes in response to decisions made by the Thatcher Government. But some employers have moved away from the agreement after deciding it was out of touch with modern industry.