A dozen or so sub-contractors are taking their complaints today to the Economic Development Minister, claiming that building firms are using cheap immigrant labour and that work is drying up for skilled tradesmen such as blocklayers and carpenters.
They say that despite a boom in the construction industry, some have not worked for two months and small firms have had to lay people off.
Big building firms are being accused of importing staff direct – mainly from Poland – and paying them £8.50 an hour for work which local blocklayers usually get paid £15 or £16 for.
One of the sub-contractors told the JEP: ‘I know one guy who has been here for 35 years and he hasn’t worked for the last two months.’ Ironically, the building industry is having one of its busiest periods for many years.
‘I’ve never seen so much work going on in Jersey, yet there are blocklayers out of work,’ the sub-contractor added.
They’re paying these people half the market rate, but they have no overheads like us.
They’re living five or six to a room, they’re not spending money in the economy, and they’re not earning enough to pay tax, so all the money just leaves the Island.
The local residents have families to feed and mortgages to pay.’