Construction News

Mon November 30 2020

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Union calls for death benefits for all construction workers

14 Feb 19 Unite, the construction union, is launching a campaign to ensure that all workers in the industry, regardless of their employment or supply chain status, are provided with death benefits.

The Brown & Mason team that is bringing down the old Longannet power station, as seen on the company's website
The Brown & Mason team that is bringing down the old Longannet power station, as seen on the company's website

It suggests that clients should routinely specify in contracts that all workers should have company accident and life insurance in place.

The campaign has been sparked by the death last week of a 55-year-old demolition worker at Longannet power station in Scotland. At the time of his death he was working for Brown & Mason.

Although Brown & Mason described the worker as a ‘valued member’ of its team and the company was registered with the B&CE (the not for profit organisation which provides benefits and pensions to the construction industry), Unite understands that the man had not been registered by Brown & Mason for accident and life cover benefit.

Under B&CE’s accident and life cover scheme’s standard rate, if a member dies at work their family receives £80,000; if they die while not at work the benefit is £40,000. The scheme, which is paid for by the employer, costs £1.49 a week.

Unite wants all workers in the construction industry to be covered by the B&CE scheme or an equivalent scheme regardless of their employment status.

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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 enrol 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.”

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