Tom criticises Portuguese-speaking requirement for construction workers

Tom has criticised a company for seemingly favouring Portuguese speakers for roles in constructing a new power station on Teesside.

A job advert for a banksman slinger on the Middlesbrough site, stated that speaking Portuguese ‘is highly desired but not essential’. Banksman slingers are responsible for ensuring safety during the transportation of materials via crane on a construction site.

Tom said:

This is one way in which companies are disadvantaging local skilled workers and making it harder for them to get work. It is very unusual to expect construction workers earning £14 an hour to speak a second language, to say the least. I have been contacted by several Teessiders who work in the construction industry who feel they aren’t being a fair chance to get these jobs.

There is another issue here. Why is there a requirement for a banksman slinger to speak another language at all? I worry that this means the crane drivers and scaffolders on the site are foreign workers being exploited by being made to work for conditions and pay below the industry standard. This could mean the migrant workers are being cheated while standards for all construction workers are being undercut.

Last month I introduced a bill to tackle exactly these sorts of practices by employers building power stations. A loophole in the law means companies building smaller power stations can make their employees work for less than the industry agreed standards. I will be raising this issue again – we need to stop the exploitation, stop the undercutting and close the loophole.

Tom Blenkinsop, introduced the 10 minute rule bill last month saying that the House of Commons must address these ‘pockets of exploitation [which] lead to resentment among all workers from our communities who are prevented from seeking and achieving meaningful employment.’

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