Unite the union backs Construction Employers’ Federation call for closure of all non-essential construction sites but demands concurrent protection for workers
Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan, called on Executive Ministers in Stormont to extend protections to workers in the construction sector:
“Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a further shutdown to lower the peak of cases of the Coronavirus was hugely ambiguous. It left workers in the construction sector involved in non-essential contracts still being asked to turn out for work today as their sector weren’t included in the UK-wide lockdown.
“It is simply not possible to guarantee social distancing of workers on a construction site. Equipment is shared between workers meaning the risk of transmission is high. There is an urgency to ensure all construction sites which are not involved in essential works are shutdown across Northern Ireland.
“But alongside such a shutdown there must be a concurrent extension employment of supports to all construction workers, in particular those who have been forced to operate on a self-employed basis. As it stands and given their employment status, if sites close self-employed construction workers will be left in penury facing severe difficulty in drawing down benefits.
“Unite is backing today’s call of the Construction Employers’ Federation for all non-essential construction sites to be closed but this must be tied to the Northern Ireland Executive intervening directly to extend the income guarantee to all self-employed construction workers. It is unconscionable that Stormont remain inactive in the face of this treat – they must act now to safeguard workers and put public health before profits!”, Mr Keenan said.