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Mon June 21 2021

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HS2 top brass agree quarterly union meetings

8 Apr 16 HS2 Ltd has set out to prevent industrial relations disputes disrupting construction of its £43bn rail project by signing a framework agreement with the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Simon Kirby and Frances O'Grady sign the treaty
Simon Kirby and Frances O'Grady sign the treaty

Under the agreement, HS2’s chief executive, HR director and construction managing director will sit down four times a year with nine trades union representatives to discuss labour relations on the project.

The framework also provides a platform for future work package agreements to be to be agreed directly between the relevant contractors and unions with support from HS2 Ltd and the TUC.

The document, signed by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady and HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby, states that: “The partners believe that a relationship between them, at a high level, will provide a useful mechanism to discuss, strategically, matters concerning employment, development, diversity and inclusion issues affecting those working for the suppliers to HS2 Ltd.”

As part of the agreement, HS2 Ltd and the TUC have committed to a series of shared values including:

  • the importance of respect at work
  • a commitment to equalities, diversity and inclusion
  • a commitment to exemplary health, safety and wellbeing
  • a commitment to legacy, maximising economic and social regeneration.

Simon Kirby said: “Our mission is to be a high-performing, innovative organisation that delivers value for money by applying the best in worldwide design and construction techniques.

“To accomplish this mission we need to lead a safe, valued and effective workforce. This fundamental agreement underlines our responsibility as a direct employer as well as a commitment to the wider workforce that will deliver HS2 across our supply chain.

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“I look forward to working with the TUC and their colleagues to provide the very best standards in areas such as safety and wellbeing, diversity and development.”

For the unions, Frances O’Grady said: “HS2 is a massive opportunity for workers in the construction and rail sectors. We look forward to working with HS2 and our member unions to ensure that equality, safety and respect are at the heart of the project.

“HS2 is key for creating jobs, driving economic growth, and narrowing the north-south divide. It's a much-needed investment boost in our railways.

“This agreement commits all those delivering HS2 to maximising benefits to the UK supply chain, crucial at a time when we are discussing the future of the UK steel industry.”

Unions represented under the agreement are RMT and Unite (who will each supply two representatives to the committee) and ASLEF, GMB, TSSA and Ucatt (who will supply one representative each. The TUC general secretary is the ninth union-side committee member.

The last clause of the document states: “The agreement is not legally enforceable and either party may terminate it by giving one month’s notice in writing.”

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