By Max Clarke

Moves by 8 of the UK’s biggest construction firms to withdraw from a complex series of workers regulations, replacing them with a new single agreement, have been blasted as a ‘cynical attack’ on workers’ rights.

The new agreement, say Unite, will make it easier to hire semi-skilled staff on lower pay.

“These employers are trying to use the current economic climate to push through their long-held ambition of introducing semi-skilled operatives on much lower rates of pay,” said Bernard McAulay, Unite national officer.

“These companies are still highly profitable and in fact the majority have seen large increases in their profits over recent years. Unite will not stand-by and allow this cynical attack on worker's terms and conditions to happen.”

The union has been informed by a few major industry clients that they do not support this breakaway move as they are concerned that industrial relations unrest caused by these proposals could jeopardise the ability of companies to deliver projects on time and within budget and that harmonious industrial relations will be a serious consideration for these clients when awarding future contracts.

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