The bigger you are the worse you can behave, particularly if you’re in the construction industry
How easy it is to behave abominably and get away with it nowadays. The bigger you are, the easier: TV stars, IT contractors, care-home chains, and now, so I hear, the construction industry. Perhaps when the Jimmy Savile horror story is all over, we could move on to builders, and show that all the wicked things we suspected were going on but ignored, really were going on, and that this time we must expose the villains and put a stop to it.
So I thought I’d try and get the ball rolling, with some of the stories I’ve heard. There are dead people on the contractors’, or the sub, or sub-sub-sub contractors’ books. Extra wages for workers who aren’t really there. Who can be sure who’s there or not, on a mammoth site? And I hear there’s a special way of mending leaking pipes that makes them pretty soon leak again, because when you have a big council contract, you have to look as if you have something to do. Which is perhaps why Rosemary’s road has been resurfaced two years running, when it was flawless in the first place. And workers are siphoning off gallons and gallons of diesel from works vehicles. Because they need extra cash.
Who can blame them? In the heavy building trades you’re are often clapped out by 55, especially without paid hols. One group of workers fought, with their union, for holiday pay and won. “You’ve had your holiday,” said the contractors. “Now piss off.” Why employ troublemakers, when thousands are desperate to work for a few groats?
“They fuck the natives over,” says a friendly union organiser, “and they double-fuck the migrants.” So could I suggest that employers stick to EU directives – allow paid holidays, only permit workers to lift 22K at a time and work an average of 48 hours a week, employ only the living, and not bribe officials. Newsnight can broadcast an exposé, we could follow it with an inquiry, and then one day, the construction industry would smell of roses. Wouldn’t it?
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