Coronavirus | Industry update 26/03/2020

Coronavirus | Industry update 26/03/2020

CPN collects statements and announcements from JCB, GMB, Building Engineering Services Association, National Federation of Builders and GGR Group.

GGR Group
GGR wishes to reassure customers that we remain open for business in order to support the UK construction industry and essential services during this challenging period. All of our depots remain functional, but at much reduced staffing levels. We also have equipment on standby to ensure that is it available as and when required.

Our operational teams are assisted remotely by our support staff, who are already working from home. We have been gradually working this way over recent weeks, so you should expect the same level of service that you have come to expect from GGR Group.

This is a continually evolving situation and we will take the necessary steps to safeguard the reliability of our services and the welfare our staff in line with our contingency plans. The safety of our staff and customers is paramount and we are adhering to government guidance.

We are here to support you with your lifting requirements and express our best wishes to all customers, staff and their families in the face of this pandemic.

Our teams are available to be contacted through our usual channels:

North: 0161 683 2580
South: 01844 202 071
Scotland: 01698 824 444

Royal Town Planning Institute
The chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has called on the government to expedite plans to support self-employed workers in the UK.

In a letter addressed to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, Victoria Hills, highlighted that many self-employed members of the RTPI had already felt the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

She praised the ‘unprecedented support’ given to the economy by the government over recent weeks but said the issue of protection for the self-employed must now be dealt with urgently.

“The RTPI is working closely with the MHCLG to establish as much business continuity as possible for the sector,” she said, “but we recognise that this will not be enough for many of our self-employed members, many of whom are facing the possibility of severe hardship.

“While we welcome the measures you have introduced for the self-employed to date, notably pushing back of the deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns and scrapping the minimum income threshold for benefit claims, these measures by themselves do not provide sufficient protection.”

Deidre Wells, chair of the RTPI’s Independent Consultants’ Network (ICN), said: “Self-employed members are not wealthy and are largely unprepared for the imminent situation they face. Many are currently dealing with a complete and imminent cessation of income right now.”

The RTPI has a membership of 25,000, approximatley 10% of whom are thought to be self-employed.

National Federation of Builders
During the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock echoed the government’s stance that construction sites can keep working if workers are able to stick to social distancing rules.

He said: “The judgment we have made is that in work, in many instances, the 2m rule can be applied. Where possible, people should work from home and employers have a duty to ensure that people are more than 2m apart.”

According to government guidelines, all documented at the NFB website, work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Richard Beresford “We will continue to support our members the best we can. We have written up some detailed guidance for our members, to help them apply social distancing and to make sure that a high standard of health and safety is kept at their sites.

He continued “Many NFB members have self-employed supply chains they feel responsible for and this has been a very trying time as there is little for them to fall back on. We are now looking to the government to provide more support for self-employed people and help them through this difficult period.”

The NFB’s ‘COVID-19 guidance for construction companies and workers’ is available here.

Building Engineering Services Association
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has joined calls for site managers to show leniency towards staff with expired SKILLcards, because operatives are unable to sit their tests due to the closure of testing centres last Friday to help stem the outbreak of COVID-19.

This follows the recent CSCS statement asking employers and those responsible for site access to use their discretion towards workers whose cards have expired since mid-March onward, so long as they can provide evidence that they have been unable to sit their Health, Safety & Environment test or undertake the required training due to closures of test/raining centres.

BESA Head of Certification Duncan Sibbald said: “This is a temporary measure to deal with workers not being able to meet the usual SKILLcard application requirements due to the pandemic.”

“SKILLcard will continue to provide assistance to SKILLcard holders and Site Managers faced with this exact scenario by being able to confirm the validity of the SKILLcard in question,” he added.

JCB is suspending UK production until at least the end of April as a result of the coronavirus crisis and will continue to pay employees unable to work, the company announced today.

During this period, all affected JCB employees will be paid 80 per cent of their basic pay and senior JCB Directors will not be taking a salary from the company until further notice.

The firm’s nine manufacturing plants closed on March 18 as disruption resulting from the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented reduction in global demand.

JCB chief executive officer, Graeme Macdonald, said: “These are certainly unprecedented times and none of us expected to find ourselves in this situation. In announcing that all those colleagues asked not to work will receive 80 per cent of their pay, we hope to remove any financial concerns that many people will undoubtedly have had.”

JCB also intends to make an application to the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help offset the cost of its support of employees.

An announcement was made that the company were planning to reduce the workforce by half at the site.

Matt Roberts, GMB Regional Officer said: “After the Prime Ministers announcement and due to the sheer scale and number of people involved in the Hinkley Point C Project, it has become clear that despite the best efforts of the trade unions, employees, and the Project Board, it has become almost impossible to maintain full operations with the vital new measures introduced to combat COVID19. Safety is everyone’s top priority.

“We are aware that EDF and the companies involved are exploring options to keep workers, including the new government Furlough scheme, and we will work with them to find solutions to the short term issues thrown up by the current crisis.

“GMB are in several discussions a day with EDF to ensure that workers get the best deal in the short term, and that we secure their long term future at the site. We are strongly committed to the safety of our members and the future of the HPC Project.”

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