The ongoing power struggle between Construction Skills Certification Scheme directors “descended into farce” last week as one board member defied his own organisation over the issue.
Philip Russell, the Federation of Master Builders’ representative on the CSCS board, attended a meeting against the wishes of FMB director general Richard Diment.
The FMB - together with other employer board members including the UK Contractors Group, National Specialist Contractors Council and Civil Engineering Contractors Association - has pledged not to attend CSCS board meetings until current chairman Trevor Walker steps down.
On learning of Mr Russell’s intention to attend the meeting last Friday, Mr Diment attempted to have him removed as a director of CSCS and the FMB’s representative. But CSCS rejected the FMB’s request and Mr Russell attended the meeting.
CSCS directors can only be nominated and denominated by a vote of board members, Construction News understands.
An FMB spokesman confirmed Mr Russell had attended the board meeting against Mr Diment’s wishes and that an unsuccessful attempt had been made to remove him as a director. He declined to comment further on the matter.
Mr Russell’s attendance at the meeting follows a letter sent by CSCS corporate company secretary Claire Milton to all directors, reminding them of their duties under the Companies Act.
The letter warned directors they are obliged to attend board meetings after the employers groups failed in their attempt to oust Mr Walker via a no confidence vote and subsequently refused to attend CSCS meetings.
It also warned directors against potentially planning to establish rival card schemes to the CSCS and said they must give reasons why they want to change the chairman.
The day before the board meeting, a separate meeting was held between the scheme’s owners, including the employers’ groups and the unions.
The highly charged meeting failed to deliver a resolution on the future leadership of CSCS, but it was agreed a further meeting should be held before the end of the year, during which it is expected the unions will either agree to vote with the employers to oust Mr Walker or the employers groups could threaten to break away from CSCS.
The FMB spokesman, UKCG chief executive Stephen Ratcliffe, and CSCS chief executive Brian Adams said there had been “a constructive dialogue” at the meeting. Mr Ratcliffe added: “The employers were given the opportunity to put all their concerns on the table. We have pledged our support for a strong and vibrant CSCS.”
CSCS declined to comment further on the situation.But a number of stakeholders have grown increasingly frustrated by events.
One source said: “The entire situation has descended into farce - it’s becoming more and more like a John le Carré novel.
“Everyone needs to sit around the table and talk sensibly about the whole thing.”
The dispute first erupted following the announcement by CITB-ConstructionSkills that it had put its contract with CSCS on notice earlier this year over commercial differences.
The contract has five years left to run and it is thought that a new chairman could help rebuild a relationship with ConstructionSkills.
CSCS has more than 1.7 million members.