BUILDING workers on projects controlled by Southampton council should have guaranteed standards of safety under an agreement signed with the trade union Unite.

The city’s decision to sign the union’s Construction Charter should also ensure workers are safe from blacklisting or from “bogus” self-employment.

Unite says the agreement will “clean up” the industry, in which it says some workers currently have to pay up to £30 a week to payroll companies just to collect their wages.

The charter commits the council to working with Unite to achieve the highest standards when it comes to employment status, health and safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and nationally agreed terms and conditions.

Sarah Carpenter, Unite’s regional secretary for the south east said: “Southampton City Council is the latest local authority in the south east to throw its support behind Unite’s Construction Charter.

“The charter marks a major boost for workers on construction projects which are under the control of the council.

“Unite’s charter enshrines the highest employment standards across local authority construction projects.

“The right to speak out on issues and be paid a fair rate for the job is vital. The charter means there will be no blacklisting of workers.

“It also protects workers from bogus self-employment by ensuring construction workers are directly employed.

“The charter also helps local workers to operate in a safe environment, including giving them the rights to raise health and safety issues without fear.”

Council leader Cllr Christopher Hammond joined Sarah Carpenter at a signing ceremony in the Civic Centre.

The charter will apply to firms seeking to work on Southampton City Council building projects.

Cllr Hammond said: “Southampton is an exciting city to live in. We’re a place of opportunity and one of the fastest growing cities in the UK.

“Our growth has been assisted by the investments made by the council and companies who want to see the city develop.

“But this development shouldn’t come at an unfair cost to workers in the construction industry – which is why we’re pleased to sign Unite’s Construction Charter.

“Residents can be assured that developments will follow safe and ethical practices, and workers will have adequate safeguards when working in Southampton.”

Mark Wood Unite executive member for the South East said: “We have construction workers in Southampton paying £20-30 a week to payroll companies just to get their wages.

“By joining the dozens of other local authorities which have signed Unite’s Construction Charter, Southampton City Council is playing a vital role in cleaning the industry up and ensuring a fair deal for workers.”