Unite activists are planning a demonstration close to Euston station on Friday 6th August to protest about access to the Skanska Costain Strabag (SCS) workforce.
Unite claims that SCS bosses are “hindering legitimate trade union access to construction workers”.
SCS disputes this. It says that it is only the canteen that is out-of-bounds for union activities, so that workers have the opportunity to enjoy their breaks in peace. It has offered Unite its own meeting room on site, it says, but the offer has not been accepted.
According to Unite, this is not ‘meaningful’ access and amounts to ‘union busting’ activity.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “This joint venture made up of leading construction companies have union-busting ingrained in their DNA and a burning desire to break the strong bond between Unite and construction workers – that will never happen.
“These companies loathe Unite as we stand up for our members in all weathers fighting and campaigning for decent pay and employment conditions, as well as the highest possible health & safety standards in the industry.
“We have already found Costain/Skanska sites on HS2 where workers have been robbed of overtime rates, death and serious injury cover, paid holidays and workers paid through payroll companies – we don’t need to ask what they have to hide because we know.
“Now they are breaking the HS2 agreement by not allowing Unite officials’ meaningful access to the site. We will continue to protest at the unacceptable behaviour of this multi-national joint venture until they realise that agreements freely entered into can’t be so easily discarded.
“These demonstrations will not only continue, with the ensuing reputational damage to the companies involved, but will spread to include other areas where Skanska-Costain-Strabag currently work. We will not stop until union officials are allowed on site.”
An SCS JV spokesperson said: “We have offered Unite access to our sites, which exceeds levels usually seen across the industry. This enables them to meet our team at inductions, work sites and our welfare area. We offered this access to Unite in January 2021 and we continue to make contact to reiterate this offer as we seek to maintain an open dialogue with Unite and to allow them to carry out their activities. To date they have not taken up this offer. However, it remains open to them."