Unite, the construction union, is launching a campaign to ensure that all workers in the industry, regardless of their employment status or where their employer sits in the supply chain, are provided with death benefits, following the recent tragic fatality of a worker in Scotland. Contributor Jerry Swain, National Officer for Construction – Unite.
Recently, a worker was killed on the Longannet power station in Scotland. At the time of his death he was working for Brown and Mason. Although Brown and Mason described the worker as a “valued member” of their team and the company was registered with the B&CE – the not for profit organisation which provides benefits and pensions to the construction industry – it would appear that the worker had not been registered by Brown and Mason for accident and life cover benefit.
Under the B&CE’s accident and life cover scheme’s standard rate if a member dies at work their family receives £80,000 and if they die while not at work the benefit is £40,000. The scheme which is paid for by the employer costs just £1.49 a week, less than three pence an hour for workers undertaking a typical 50 hour week.
Unite is demanding all workers in the construction industry are covered by the B&CE scheme or an equivalent scheme regardless of their employment status. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain, said: “This was a terrible tragedy and our first thoughts must be with the victim’s family.
“While no amount of money can ever compensate for losing a loved one, if workers are part of the B&CE scheme, it at least means that the family grieving the loss of a loved one, will have one less thing to worry about.
“It is essential that clients and major contractors take action to ensure that all workers are covered by the B&CE scheme regardless of who engages them or the employment status they are given.
“Deaths and serious injuries remain all too common in the construction industry, with nearly one worker a week losing their lives; this is a real problem, rather than a theoretical issue.
“The question of whether all workers on a site will be enrolled onto the B&CE scheme should be one of the first asked when clients are awarding contacts, companies that answer no should simply not be allowed to operate in construction.
“The failure to enroll workers onto the scheme is unacceptable to Unite and must become unacceptable to the industry in the same way that having the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) is.”