Employers and unions need an industrial strategy to deliver the additional capacity and proper wages needed to meet housing targets says GMB.
GMB, the union for building materials and construction workers, commented on a new National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) report on brick shortages and the lack of skilled construction workers in the UK.
Steve Kemp, GMB National Officer, said "GMB is calling for immediate action to increase production of bricks as part of an industrial strategy fit for the future, geared to tackle the UK's dire housing shortage.
Employers must also improve pay levels to attract the workers the construction industry requires, and create new high quality apprenticeships in this sector. Recent accounts for housebuilders show returns on capital above 30%. That is a sure sign that wages are far too low as employers clean up at the expense of workers and taxpayers with funded tax credits and housing benefits.
The UK economy has an unsustainable annual balance of payments deficit of £90 billion which is 5% of GDP. We can no longer afford to continue the unnecessary practice of importing bulky items like bricks and other building materials. Employers worrying about tariffs on imported bricks are looking in the wrong end of the telescope - it’s time to take action to reopen the UK brickyard.
There are currently over one and a half million people unemployed in the UK. The construction industry employers must look to this reserve of unused labour to grow our workforce and provide us the housing we need.
The need for a coherent industrial strategy is underlined in that some GMB members are to be made redundant due to short term over capacity at a few plants impacted by imports and at least one plant has announced a pay freeze because of this over capacity. GMB members work long hours with many on low pay and should not be treated totally unfairly in what is a bizarre and unnecessary situation."
Contact: Steve Kemp 07730 898102 or GMB press office 07958 156 846 or email@example.com
Notes to editors
Brick shortage holding up housebuilding process ‘from beginning to end’