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Subbies back direct labour

Trade contractors set to follow Laing O'Rourke's lead to phase out self-employment

LEADING trade contractors are expected to follow Laing O'Rourke's example and introduce direct employment contracts for all workers. Subbies in the concrete sector are believed to be formulating plans to rid themselves of all self-employed workers by next year.

The move comes as O'Rourke's controversial new contract is rolled out across all the firm's sites.

A source close to the company said: 'The aim is to phase out CIS4 holders. O'Rourke has the biggest directly employed workforce in the business but there is still a rump of self-employed people.

'The game is up on CIS and the Inland Revenue is looking at this harder than ever, so O'Rourke is switching the remaining self-employed people onto the books.

'Other trade contractors in the concrete sector are looking at going down the same route.They are keeping their plans quiet at the moment while they see how O'Rourke gets on, but it stands to reason.Why risk the taxman having a look at you for the sake of a few bogus self-employed people?'

A source at one major contractor said: 'This makes sense for the trade contractors but not for us. If we tried to sign our self-employed people up directly they would just walk down the road to another job.'

Industrial unrest has hit some O'Rourke sites since it started introducing the company-wide contract for operatives.

But union sources said the protests were being led by self-employed workers while the majority of employees were happy with the new terms and conditions.

A Ucatt source said: 'It is mainly the CIS4 lads who are kicking up over this because they think they will lose out. Our position as a union is against bogus self-employment and in favour of direct employment.

'We're not saying this is the best thing since sliced bread.We're just saying people shouldn't be worse off and it fits with the direction we want to see the industry going.'

Laing O'Rourke directly employs over 6,000 operatives in the UK but it is unclear how many men are self-employed and hold CIS 4 status.Major sites like Heathrow Terminal 5 are already run with 100 per cent directly employed labour.

Opponents of the contracts fear that men will lose money and have attacked a lack of consultation over their introduction.

Their anger sparked a walkout on CTRL contract 105 last week and a further mass meeting on Tuesday.

A meeting was also due to be held in King's Cross as Construction News went to press to elect shop stewards unclear how many men are self-employed and hold CIS 4 status.Major sites such as Heathrow Terminal 5 are already run with 100 per cent directly employed labour.

Opponents of the contracts fear that men will lose money and have attacked a lack of consultation over their introduction.

Their anger sparked a walkout on CTRL contract 105 last week and a further mass meeting on Tuesday.

A meeting was also due to be held in King's Cross to elect shop stewards for the site as Construction News went to press.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow was due as a guest speaker.

One site source said: 'It is not so much the idea of the contract but the fact that management has not declared what they are up to, so the workforce's immediate reaction is to be suspicious.'

Men on a number of other jobs in Birmingham, Oxford, Manchester and Liverpool have also refused to sign up to the new contracts.

Crane drivers working for Laing O'Rourke-owned Select Plant Hire are lining up in opposition to the deal on sites in Birmingham and the south-east.

One Select source told Construction News: 'As far as Select are concerned they have upset a lot of drivers and I don't know any of them who are going to sign it. It could cost me about £70 a week.'

nA meeting detailing how to root out bogus self-employment in the industry has been cancelled at the last minute by the Inland Revenue.

The event was due to have taken place at the Revenue's offices last week but was pulled after officials decided they needed more time to analyse the effect of its latest purge, which began in August.