Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Union must focus on bogus self-employment, not Laing O'Rourke


Sir, I have read the recent reports of 'union concerns' at Laing O'Rourke's at titude since it decided to directly employ its workers.

I was employed in the construction industry all my working life until I retired.

I was a trade union member and a shop steward and was always directly employed.

I have seen the bogus selfemployed go through their working lives without paying tax, national insurance or contributing to a pension.

Many of these workers are now retired and suffer from arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis and other ailments relating to construction.

They receive invalidity benefit and housing benefit as they do not receive any pension, because they never contributed.

Trade un ions shou ld suppor t Laing O'Rourke's initiative to only directly employ operatives, giving good rates of pay, sickness and redundancy payments, as it provides building workers with dignity both at work and in retirement.

The main contractors abdicated their responsibilities in the 1970s to the people who promoted subbies and self employment.

The unions quickly adapted to this, signing up the subbies for paper membership.

They gave up on the directly employed, having no problems with the paper members who kept their heads down while the subbies kept the union officials happy.

The trade union 'sources' state that it takes time to change the culture on site.

But what about people like me? I paid all my life, subsidising the lumpers. How long will it take the trade unions to change their culture and to get all those who are bogus self-employed into direct employment?

I cannot see how encouraging people who are in receipt of all their entitlements to walk off site can be the answer to the problems.

Union officials would be more gainfully employed going on to sites to get direct employment for everyone.

My father often told me that as a young man he worked on the original Wembley stadium.

It was built by direct labour in 300 days, handed over ahead of schedule and within budget.

John Enright Willesden London NW10