A CARPENTER from Magor has launched a petition calling for an end to an "unfair" safety certification scheme which he claims is leaving construction workers out of pocket and prevented them from doing their jobs.

Paul Fear, who has worked as a carpenter for 37 years, is calling on the Welsh Government to stop using building firms which require temporary workers to be registered with the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme, or CSCS, for public projects.

Although being registered with the scheme, which recognises workers have safety training, is not a legal requirement, many building firms will only take on temporary workers who are registered.

The card proving registration with the scheme costs £30, but can only be issued once the applicant has carried out a separate health and safety test costing £19.50, meaning applicants are almost £50 out of pocket before they can start work.

And a construction-specific card is now being withdrawn, meaning anyone working in the industry, regardless of experience or qualifications, will need to obtain an NVQ level two, which can cost as much as £1,500, to obtain a new CSCS card.

Mr Fear, 53, who was taught his trade by his father, who himself learned while serving with the Royal Navy, said: "I've been a carpenter for so long, but all that experience and knowledge is worth nothing unless I'm willing to pay £1,500. We just want a bit of fairness.

"These workers have to pay for everything and they haven't got the money."

He added, although grants are available for workers needing NVQ qualifications, only employers can apply for these, meaning they are unavailable to temporary workers.

"Although CSCS can undermine employment and common laws by saying that their scheme is voluntary and non legislative, in reality it is a requirement for employers unless they want to run the risk being found liable of not providing a duty of care to their employees and the public," he said. "Once a worker certification scheme has become good practice almost any requirement can be put on the card holders as long as they do not break race, religion or gender laws.

"All these requirement costs are passed onto the card holders."

He added: "It's also a cost burden on small businesses.

"Say a small business applies to take on a Welsh Government contract. They can't do it unless they make sure all of their workers have these qualifications.

"A lot of them can't afford it and that removes competition and pushes prices up."

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme did not respond to request for comment.

View the petition at tinyurl.com/y9qjsx7u