An important member of every building team was the builders labourer. In the past labourer was generally the unqualified unskilled workhorse that performed the hard physical labour necessary for building projects of the time. Labourers were generally treated poorly simply because they needed the work and there were plenty of strong men also in the same situation. Typically the builders labourers with picked on a daily basis from a pool of potential workers, and they would not know from one day to the next whether they had work and income.
Builders Wellington still working these types of conditions in many countries overseas, and more often than not they are abused, they are confined to low-cost substandard housing during the project, they are paid poorly and the work is often very dangerous. This is particularly so for high rise projects in Middle Eastern and other countries, were they building labourers a little more than slaves.
Fortunately in New Zealand our labour laws have made for a much better situation for the building labourer, who is typically a semi skilled fit and smart individual that is trying to get qualified as a fully fledged builder. Under New Zealand labour laws these workers, almost always young fit men, have to be well trained and all the site safety practices plus they need to be given all the safety equipment necessary to work on site.
Modern building sites and in particular high rise construction sites are exceedingly complex in the operation, and the building labourers need to be trained to deal in this complexity and to operate safely at all times. As a building labourer they will gain valuable work experience and valuable references for future work, and in current the New Zealand building boom these labourers have little problem picking up new work once any project has finished.
The work the labourers do will definitely include the more menial tasks that labourers expect, but will also include tasks with a degree of skill and knowledge as required. These might include assisting with the erection of concrete formwork, assisting with the placement of reinforcing Steel, assisting with the erection of scaffolding and safety equipment and assisting with the safe movement of heavy materials around the site using heavy lifting equipment. At all times the building labourer will be under careful supervision buy a skilled Foreman on the site, and their finished work will be closely checked, but this will not prevent the labourer from operating efficiently and providing serious value to the project.