Fair Work Inquiry into the Construction Industry, The Story so far – Mary Alexander

The Fair Work Convention (FWC) launched its Inquiry into Fair Work in the Construction Industry in January this year, 2020. Bringing together a range of representatives from the Fair Work Convention, Local Authorities, Construction Companies, National Bodies engaged in the sector, Trade Unions and others to form the Construction Industry Inquiry Group (CIIG). The groups remit is to consider in detail the steps and actions that will be required in order to implement the Fair Work Framework across the Construction sector.

Of course no one could have envisioned then the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impact it is having on the construction industry and world of work. The CIIG have continued to meet virtually throughout the year and have considered the impact of this health crisis on the sector for workers and employers. We firmly believe Fair Work can and should be at the heart of finding solutions in the challenges we all face going forward.

Construction Industry Inquiry Group was set up following the FWC conducting a procurement themed evidence session into the Construction sector. The Fair Work Convention found that there were significant challenges to Fair Work being experienced by frontline staff in the sector and it was agreed by the FWC that an Inquiry into Fair Work in Construction should be set up.

I have agreed to champion this piece of work for the Fair Work Convention as Co-Chair of the Construction Industry Inquiry Group alongside Professor Patricia Findlay. We are looking at key challenges to delivering Fair Work in public sector commissioning and procurement, based on workers experiences and utilising research by Strathclyde University.

The Construction Industry Inquiry Group have agreed to run over 18 months to consult relevant stakeholders; identify key issues and actions and develop recommendations for Ministers. The Construction Inquiry promises to develop recommendations and advise Ministers on how best to progress Fair Work and address the challenges facing workers and employers in the sector.

We plan to deliver our findings and recommendations in a final report by the end of next year. This will allow time to explore, understand and meet stakeholders to identify the strengths and challenges in delivering Fair Work across public sector procurement in construction, and for any further necessary work to be undertaken.

I believe that commissioning and procurement in public sector contracting is one of the most practical ways that the Scottish Government can show leadership and deliver Fair Work in practice.  Whilst progress has been made in advancing this, we must ensure that the COVID-19 crisis doesn’t halt this progress.

The Fair Work Convention believe there is much more to be done in advancing Fair Work in the public sector and this inquiry will help support our vision, that, by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where Fair Work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses and society.

My hope for the Construction Industry Inquiry Group is that our recommendations and findings will make a significant difference to frontline construction workers and challenge the construction industry as a whole to put Fair Work first.

Find out more about The Construction Industry Inquiry Group here

Mary Alexander

Co-Chair, The Construction Industry Inquiry Group