Subcontracting and dodgy practices are at the heart of the construction industry.
Many companies try to get away with the bare minimum safety measures and training. No large or medium-sized company has ever been convicted of corporate manslaughter.
The aim is to produce a multi-layered fake economy. As the number of participants in the market increases, so the opportunities for squeezing workers’ costs are enhanced.
Wages are forced down—and the responsibility for paying for training, holiday, sick leave and pension rights is displaced down the subcontracting chain, eventually onto the workers.
This fake economy forces cost savings to be made at every layer. It is now deemed too expensive to train workers on the job. This means that subcontracting encourages deskilling, increasing the risk of death and injury at work.
Jim Grey has been an electrician for 26 years. He told Socialist Worker, “Accidents are getting worse. Firms are really cracking the whip. It’s like you have to work twice the rate for half the money.
“This is the tip of the iceberg. They’re introducing deskilling through the back door and threatening people with the sack if they don’t sign the new contracts.
“For years they’ve been chipping away at us and now we’ve just had enough.”
The companies behind subcontracting aren’t small operations—they’re huge multinationals. The industry is wracked with corruption.
The building bosses run blacklists to keep trade union militants off sites. All the companies tearing up the national agreement have used blacklists of electricians.