ST Helens Council has agreed to sign a union charter to ensure construction workers are better protected in the future.

Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley submitted a motion at full council on Wednesday that called on the council sign up to the Unite Construction Charter.

The charter commits to working with Unite in order to achieve the highest standards in respect of direct employment status, health and safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and the implementation of appropriate nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.

A number of local authorities around the UK have already signed up the charter.

Cllr McCualey worked in the engineer and construction industry for more than 25 years and was a union safety representative for much of that time.

He said in the decade spent out of the industry, he has noticed a “vast difference” of construction projects covered by a national agreement compared to those that are not.

The Labour councillor said any project covered by a national agreement would have “demonstrably much higher” standards of health and safety and general working conditions.

Cllr McCauley said: “In those ten years I have been out of the industry, more and more developers are trying to dodge the national agreement.

“And with all the development planned, and what we hope for in the borough, it its time to take stock and make sure our policies and procedures protect workers against those unscrupulous employers who wish to exploit them.

“Basically, what we are asking for in this motion is for construct workers to be treated as you would want any members of your family to be treated when they go to work.

“As a procurer of construction/infrastructure projects I feel it is our responsibility as custodians of this place to make sure those sites precured by, or on behalf of the council, are as safe as they possibly could be, and our employees are paid the going rate for the job and generally treated with the respect they deserve.”

Moss Bank councillor Paul Lynch works in law specialising in work place accidents and industrial disease.

He said the charter was “just the kind of smart governance” the council should be supporting.

Liberal Democrat leader Teresa Sims said she and fellow Lib Dem councillor Geoff Pearl would have to abstain from the vote as supporting material was only provided on the afternoon of the meeting.

Conservative leader Cllr Allan Jones expressed the same concerns but said Tory councillors would still support motion.

The motion was passed following a vote.