Construction chiefs including Mace's Mark Reynolds made request during call with construction minister
Construction industry chiefs have asked the government to label construction workers as essential staff in order to legitimise them travelling to work.
The call follows hostility toward some construction workers, particularly on social media, for going to work, despite the fact the government has asked them continue working where safe to do so. A number of firms have resorted to providing workers with letters explaining they are required to work if they are questioned.
Details of the request were published in the daily coronavirus update from industry trade body Build UK.
The update said: "Build UK and others called on the government to designate construction workers as ‘essential workers’, in order to reassure everyone that they had permission to leave their homes to go to work."
The update said construction minister Nadhim Zahawi was joined by representatives from Build UK,and industry leaders including Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds and Julie White, managing director of specialist subcontractor D-Drill on the call.
The update said Zahawi "recognised that companies were making some tough decisions and there had been some opposition to sites remaining open, especially via social media".
He reaffirmed that construction sites of all types should continue to operate.
Build UK said industry representatives had also raised concerns about the access to cash.
It said: "The challenge of obtaining loans was highlighted. While government support was very much welcomed, it was recognised that for some it would come too late.
"The minister emphasised that the 'squeezed middle' of companies were now eligible for support and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would start to pay out by the end of the month."
Zahawi also confirmed that he would look at public sector work that could be accelerated in the current circumstances.