E tū urges joint industry approach to sustained building boom

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The construction union, E tū is urging a cohesive approach to the challenges of a sustained building boom.

The National Construction Pipeline Report has forecast about $200 billion worth of building projects between now and 2021, with jobs for up to half a million workers.

E tū’s Industry Co-ordinator Construction, Ron Angel says the boom has resulted in building firms actively competing for workers, with an ad hoc approach which could blunt the industry’s potential.

“We’re not really seeing the signs of an industry preparing for a sustained future”, he says. “We’re seeing one preparing for a bust.

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“It’s dog-eat-dog. We’ve got billboards around Christchurch advertising for 10,000 workers to move to Auckland, with accommodation provided. So the competition is fierce.

“This could easily become an industry which cannibalises itself” says Ron.

Ron says labour shortages are being plugged by labour hire firms, which offer little job security, or investment in the training, career development and quality the industry needs.

He says what’s needed is “quality training, quality jobs, quality materials and quality homes.”

“In Christchurch, we can see the results of a rapid rebuild with shoddy quake repairs, and in Auckland, almost 40 percent of all building inspections fail.”

He says many professional bodies have raised concerns about standards, and “we’re very much part of that discussion”.

He says E tū will be working with these organisations to ensure a united voice which promotes an industry which attracts, trains and retains skilled workers.