JIB where is the love for the self-employed?
The JIB handbook 2019 “Setting employment standards” or is it? Certainly, if your one of the big seven companies (the same companies that wanted BESNA and have now achieved it) then the book works in your favour, but I think it falls seriously short of supporting the worker and has done for too long! For this article I want to focus on two key facts that jump out at me and the Electrical Workers Branch members.
So firstly, sub-contractors are barely recognised in the book and no rates are set. It does mention that the JIB thinks the use of agencies is “detrimental to aims and objectives of the JIB” (17.2.1) but then goes on to admit that “the environment currently and in the foreseeable future will ensure the continuing use of employment business labour.” (22.214.171.124) (an employment business is an agency that provides temporary workers) Based on the above statement I ask why does the JIB not list a wage structure for the self-employed workers? It would certainly end the uncertainty of what electricians should be getting paid, whilst working through agencies at least, where an hourly rate can be anything from £18-£25 depending on the demand at the time and overtime rates are virtually unheard off with 10-hour days being the norm at flat rate. Some will say that being self-employed means setting your own rates but as we all know more and more companies are using agencies because of the credit they can offer and that means the rate is decided long before the worker gets their say.
Is it not fair to include a chapter that gives T&C’s as well as minimum rates to be paid to the WORKER should a JIB company decide to use agency staff? Not only would this stop agencies skimming their profits from the workers wage but would also aid in the JIB’s objective of getting workers employed directly with companies as suddenly the company would have to pay the premium on top the workers wage not the other way around. Don’t get me wrong I understand many electricians want to be self-employed but from the conversations ive had that is mainly because being on the books is not worth it and many of the perks you should be getting are not enforced. The point is whatever way you choose to be employed in the electrical industry you should be offered some protection from the powers that be, instead of this huge divide between PAYE and self-employed workers that keeps being pushed from certain sections of the industry.
Secondly is the completely unnecessary amount of titles you can be issued with, worse of all the “improver” title which is now being used as a way to get cheap labour on site carrying out jobs that a “trainee” or “apprentice” would not be left to do alone in a million years but an “improver” is deemed competent to complete. For clarification this is not an attack on anyone working as an improver, it is the need to recognise that the improver role should not exist at all and should be removed as the correct wording is TRAINEE! In fact, an improver (someone who has completed college and is now doing an NVQ & AM2) would be on a higher wage if they were labelled as trainee because they would be classed as stage 3 as oppose to an improver who is in the same bracket as stage 2! (tables in section 6)
For the record the table lists the following roles listed in order from the lowest wage to higest:
1. Apprentice, stage 1-4
3. Adult trainee
4. Mechanical trainee stage, 1-3
5. Trainee electrician stage, 1-3
6. Electrical improver
7. Senior graded electrical trainee
8. ECS mature candidate assessment cardholder
9. ECS experienced worker cardholder
11. Leading cable hand
14. Approved jointer
15. Cable foreman
16. Advanced craftsperson
17. Approved electrician
18. Cable installation supervisor
19. Mechanical technician
20. Electrical/site technician
Quite a list I think you will agree and considering 1-9 are not qualified positions I can’t understand why we need so many titles for a trainee? Would it not make more sense to simply have apprentices and trainees with someone such as the now titled ECS mature candidate assessment cardholder starting as a trainee level 3 as this reflects the same pay grade but makes it far less confusing?
In summery I think much more could be done and its about time the workers had a say rather than the companies writing the book with the disguise that Unite the union speaks for the workers. If that were the case and the workers were being represented, then why is the industry in the state that it is with the need for a new union in the IWGB: Electrical Workers Branch to give workers the voice they deserve? I can only hope that the JIB starts taking on board what the workers want before its too late and the industry that’s on its knees gets dealt the final blow to finish it off completely.
To find out more about the union please visit: www.electricalworkersbranch.org
You can find the JIB book here: https://www.jib.org.uk/documents/handbooks/3-37844-u-jib-handbook-2019-interactive.pdf