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Council signs charter to ensure 'highest standards' for construction workers in borough

PUBLISHED: 12:53 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:53 04 July 2019

Barking and Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell and Unite deputy regional secretary Vince Passfield signed the union's construction charter. Picture: Andrew Brookes

Barking and Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell and Unite deputy regional secretary Vince Passfield signed the union's construction charter. Picture: Andrew Brookes

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Working conditions for building projects in the borough will meet the highest standards after Barking and Dagenham became the first London council to sign a new charter.

Council leader Darren Rodwell and Unite deputy regional secretary Vince Passfield sign the construction charter outside Barking Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Bentum-OcranCouncil leader Darren Rodwell and Unite deputy regional secretary Vince Passfield sign the construction charter outside Barking Town Hall. Picture: Daniel Bentum-Ocran

Major trade union Unite's Construction Charter lays down standards in respect of direct employment status, health and safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and the implementation of nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.

Essentially, it ensures workers are paid fairly, can speak out about safety issues and protects them from blacklisting and exploitation.

Leader of the council Darren Rodwell signed the charter with Unite deputy regional secretary Vince Passfield at the Barking Town Hall this morning, meaning construction firms planning to work on projects in the borough will now need to meet those standards.

Mr Passfield said the charter combined the council's procurement power with Unite's workplace influence.

"We're delighted as a trade union that one of the first boroughs to sign (the charter) is one of our most progressive Labour councils," he said.

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"We've already developed a good relationship with the council and there was no hesitation from Barking and Dagenham when we came to them with our concept of the construction charter.

"We intend to continue relations and work closely with Barking and Dagenham in the future."

Mr Passfield said the charter would, vitally, also protect workers from "bogus self-employment."

"It ensures construction workers are directly employed instead of paying £20 to £30 a week to payroll companies just to get their wages," he said.

The council will write to all contractors it works with to make it clear that they need meet the standards and act in a "socially responsible" manner.

Cllr Rodwell said: "It's really important that the council and the unions work together to improve not only the place but also the people.

"That's what we've done - we've made sure the charter is signed, showing we want the highest standards when it comes to construction for our residents.

"It's important that while setting our sights on new developments, we're committed to making sure that workers aren't exploited and that no one will be left behind in our pursuit of growth."

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