More than 150 construction workers working for Byrnes Bros at projects including Westfield in White City, the International Quarter in Stratford and 100 Bishopsgate have secured payments of between £400 and £1,000 each, with further back payments to follow, after the workers joined forces to demand their full holiday entitlements. The Unite union is claiming credit.
Workers were getting holiday pay based on 39 hours a week but in reality they often worked around 55 hours because of overtime on Saturdays.
When the workers first approached Byrne Bros management they were ignored, until construction workers at different sites, backed by Unite, joined forces and started a campaign that culminated in a collective grievance.
Management then tried to deal with the grievance on an individual basis but workers insisted on a collective remedy to the underpayments, Unite says. Eventually management conceded and Byrne Bros has agreed to pay, including back pay.
Unite says that the pay-out could lead the way for similar claims across the construction industry.
Unite regional officer Mark Soave said: “This is a fantastic result with significant sums of money for the workers at Byrne’s Brothers. Even though they were entitled to more money, management tried to avoid the payments. After a hard fought campaign Byrne Bros eventually realised the strength of feeling amongst the workers and agreed to the pay-outs worth hundreds of thousands.
“Just because you have a right to be paid more it doesn’t mean bosses will automatically pay up, that’s why it pays to be in a union that is prepared to enforce your rights at work.”