ECITB denies “breakaway” card scheme

THE Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) has denied claims it is introducing a “rogue” scaffolding card scheme.

Unite, the UK’s largest construction union, said it had been informed by the ECITB that it was in the process of developing a new scaffolding card scheme.

Unite described it as a “breakway” scheme that would compete directly with the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS). The union warned it could lead to a decrease in standards and scaffolders having different skills cards for different projects.

However, in response to this, Chris Claydon, chief executive of the ECITB, said that what the organisation is developing is a “training, development and assessment programme” for scaffolders working overseas in response to interest from international engineering firms. He added that offshore fabric maintenance companies in the UK have also expressed an interest in a “common scheme” which supports the development and assessment of offshore scaffolders against a relevant standard.

He said, “We have no plans to bring in a new scaffolding card scheme in the UK. The new programme, which would be entirely voluntary, would award scaffolders based overseas the International Competence in Engineering (ICE) card, which has been in existence since 2013 and is used widely overseas as a standardised indicator of competence.

“The ECITB is committed to ensuring training supports the highest standards of safety across engineering construction sites.

“We are currently in discussion with the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) regarding compatibility between the CISRS card and the new programme.”

Unite had earlier announced it was organising a meeting of its senior stewards in scaffolding to decide a plan of action top oppose the creation of a “new rogue scaffolding scheme”.

Bernard McAulay, Unite national officer for construction said, “The proposal to introduce a rogue scaffolding scheme is bad news for workers. It will affect standards and create confusion on sites.

“With workers regularly moving between sites it is also likely to hit them in their pockets as they will be forced to purchase two different cards, to ensure they are able to accept job offers.

“The creation of a new card is not about improving standards and has everything to do with a few employers, principally those working offshore, wanting to avoid paying scaffolders for the training they need to ensure they remain fully competent in the work they do.

“Our members are not going to accept this attack on their skills and their pay packets. The employers behind these proposals are being placed on notice that these proposals are entirely unacceptable. Scaffolding is one of the most safety critical roles in the construction industry and we should be ensuring that standards are being pushed up, rather than watered down.

“In recent years there has been a great deal of effort in reducing the number of construction card schemes, in order to improve standards and to avoid confusion and it now appears that the ECITB is prepared to chuck that good work out of the window to appease a few penny pinching employers.”