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Hudson Contract & UCATT: The common agenda

News and Views | 13th August 2013

A copy of UCATT’s latest magazine landed on my desk the other day. I started reading, and was then prompted to take a look at their website. The result is something you might not have expected: At Hudson Contract, we support many of the union’s campaigns and objectives.

Here’s what I mean:

1. The UCATT pledge to fight the introduction of tribunal application fees for applicants.

I firmly agree with UCATT’s stance – because I believe it is those who represent the applicant who should be obliged to make an upfront payment. Poor advice, ill-informed opinion and downright scurrilous claims brought by no-win-no-fee lawyers (and indeed union solicitors) should mean it is the advisors who should be obliged to take a financial risk. I wonder whether UCATT will volunteer to pay the application fees when they advise someone to bring a claim against Hudson Contract or our clients?

2. UCATT’s view on the latest growth figures.

Steven Murphy, the union’s General Secretary says: “Whilst the construction sector has grown, it is still disappointing.” Quite right too! Additional growth is something we all strive for – growth in construction means additional opportunities in the workplace. Not just employment opportunities either, but workplace openings for freelance builders who are the first to see the effect of rising prices for piece work, since demand for their skills rises whilst they capitalise on their own capabilities. Our latest paystats bear this out, with freelance earnings for last month climbing to £1,000+ a week for some labour-only subbies.

3. “Keep it up to date.”

This campaign is designed to remind UCATT members to keep their subscriptions no less than 26 weeks in arrears. It’s a timely reminder, given that the Certification Officer for Trades Unions pinpointed the fact that while former General Secretary Alan Richie insisted to the TUC that UCATT had 120,000 members, the actual subscription-paid voting membership was in fact less than half that number.

4. “HMRC can’t answer.”

A UCATT request under the Freedom of Information Act for disclosure of the number of fines issued against contractors who incorrectly recorded the tax status of their workers had been rejected by HMRC. Here’s another thing we have in common – because Hudson Contract asked HMRC the exact same question and received the same answer. HMRC say it would be too expensive to add the case outcomes together. If, however, UCATT asks a similar question – “How many times has Hudson Contract been fined for getting the tax status of operatives incorrect?” – the answer is NONE. Equally, “How many times has a tribunal ruled that Hudson Contract has the self-employment status of a claimant wrong?” gives the same answer: NONE. But then UCATT should know that by now…

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