You can set up your self if you so wish, Why not,but I accept rates are dictated, doesn't mean your making money mind, been there done it myself.its not that simple, you can't just set up your own firm and dictate "your rates" your rates will be dictated to you by competition from other firms during tendering. if all firms held out at a reasonable minimum price threshold the house builders would have no choice but to pay a higher price, do you think groundworks contractors have all those men on site, all that plant and are working for a 5% margin? of course they're not because they know they are worth more with the investment they have made to even be there, if they all kept undercutting each other until there was nothing left the house builders would let them, but they don't and house builders still need groundworks/civils so they pay the rates.
the same priciple applies to suppliers, noticed how skimming and plasterboards are pretty much the same price everywhere you go? can travis, sig, ccf etc really not go any cheaper on these products? of course they could, but why would they want to? there's plenty of plasterers so if they all charge the same they'll all get enough business, theres more than enough to go around, if only the people running plastering firms understood this concept ..we'd all be better off, from the lads on tools to the tools running firms.. we'd all have more money in our pockets
It's not just plastering your way off camber, other trades are similar being driven down by large building outfits. One of my best pals is a the owner of a large groundwork out fit he works for Plc home builders and the figures are poor, no where near what you think, And he has over a million of plant on his books,he gets the gig to tie lads over, between better paying jobs as groundwork is usually an all go thing so he gets council gigs where he needs the call of 40 odd lads on a whim.
To be fair your making a pointless argument, it is what it is, your never going to get a level agreement for rates, plastering is swamped there's an abundance of supply and like any other industry, if there's over supply the price goes down.