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Constable faces wrath of female construction staff

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FEMALE construction workers have criticised a Jersey Constable after he said ‘most jobs in building were unsuitable for women’ during a BBC interview.

Briony Price, plumber Picture: ROB CURRIE. (24399340)

Jersey plumber Briony Price, who has worked in the industry for 23 years, said not enough young girls were encouraged into construction jobs.

She added: ‘I, and women like me, do exist. It doesn’t help when a prominent States Member is reinforcing myths about it’.

The 40-year-old St Saviour parishioner posted the interview with Mr Le Bailly on Facebook group Trade Women Chat. The post has attracted 117 comments from women who work in construction around the world. Ms Price said she knew of up to 50 followers of the group who had said they were going to email the Constable to express their views.

‘He said something about women in construction not being able to work if they’re pregnant. He has been sent pictures of heavily pregnant women doing concreting or up ladders by women from the group,’ she added.

During his interview, which was about an amendment to family-friendly employment rights, Mr Le Bailly said: ‘There are certain jobs that women do and men do and unfortunately it’s still male-dominated on building sites...There are many jobs in building that you would not expect a woman to do.

‘For one they haven’t got the same strength as a man. You would not want a woman carting concrete blocks all day – various jobs like that. It’s all well and good if they can do it, 35 years ago I employed a woman as a labourer and she was the best labourer I ever had.

‘If people are prepared to do it, I would take them on to do that job but most jobs in the building line are unsuitable for women.’

The Constable was unavailable for comment.

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His comments come at a time when bunting has been erected in St Helier to celebrate the States’ Votes4Women initiative. The programme celebrates 100 years since women were given the vote in Jersey.

Ms Price, a member of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers who works for DB Malorey Ltd, added: ‘I love my job, my boss is super supportive. I could count on one hand the number of problems I have had with me because I am a woman. I get more issues with women who think maybe I have been employed because my dad or husband is the boss.

‘When I started there was one other girl plumber and maybe a painter and now there are lots more. I don’t think girls are given this option enough at school. No-one says this is a proper job for women, if they did, I think we would see even more women involved.’

Ms Price, who did her apprenticeship with the States, emailed Mr Le Bailly and said she felt attitudes like his ‘have seen the Island wallowing in the dark ages’.

Mr Le Bailly replied to say: ‘I am sorry that my interview offended you, it was not meant to.’

He added: ‘I would like to see more women coming forward to learn trades such as plumbing, electrical, carpentry and painting decorating. Unfortunately there is a shortage of women who are prepared to take proper apprenticeships and there are fewer builders prepared to teach them.’

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