A building body has warned under-pressure labourers who are being blocked from work by eco-protests in London could “100 percent” snap unless police and the government take ownership of the problem.
In heated scenes across the capital commuters and passers-by have already been seen confronting Just Stop Oil activists during slow-walk protests which effectively block roads.
A clash on Blackfriars Bridge on Tuesday saw a man detained by Metropolitan Police Officers after pushing a protester to the floor. Other clashes have seen banners ripped from the marchers and motorists venting their frustration with the police handling of the protests.
Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Housing and Planning Policy, at the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said organisations like Just Stop Oil are pushing builders to the “brink” by refusing to engage in sensible debate.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Wojtulewicz said the NFB had tried to reach out to previous environmental protest groups but without success. And he fears that the breakdown of dialogue could lead to even more disturbing clashes.
He said: “If you really want to start the conversation, yeah have your protest, but pass the baton on and inform the public. That for me is the most frustrating part of all this.
“They won’t engage in sensible debate, they are disturbing society and pushing people, like builders, to the brink. Nobody wants to see violence, but every action has an equal or opposite reaction, and some people react this way.
“It’s not good and we don’t want to see it (violence), but it would be helpful if the government took some ownership about how we improve the situation.”
Mr Wojtulewicz also said that Just Stop Oil’s demands were totally out of touch with ordinary builders, who can’t afford electric vans or cars.
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Asked if a builder, or other commuter, could eventually ‘snap’ with the protesters Mr Wojtulewicz said: “100 percent”.
He added: “This is absolutely the concern. Britain is a very civilised and tolerant society, and you see that by how few incidents (during the protests) have occurred.
“But the more these marches happen, the more people are impacted, the more frustrated people get and then people will feel, ‘well nobody is doing something, so I have to do something’.”
Mr Wojtulewicz said 49 percent of the construction industry is self-employed and while wages had gone up, so too had the material costs. The housebuilding industry has also suffered from new regulations and taxes from the government in the last few years.
He said: “Interest rates have also harmed house building, and now we’ve got protesters stopping people getting to work.
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“When is it going to end for a sector that is effectively building Britain, without the construction industry this country is at a standstill, I don’t think people realise the damage this it is doing, to every sector, but especially the construction industry.
“I understand why Just Stop Oil are doing it, but they’ve got to meet everyone half-way and have a conversation about the trade-offs, and about how we stop oil not just simply demanding ‘stop oil’ because that’s not a realistic solution anyway.
“They are implementing the same tactics over and over again, they are literally stopping peoples’ lives for an impossible message, and that is not helpful.”