Laing O’Rourke is not the union’s favourite contractor in Liverpool – “Laing O’Rourke is well known for being anti-union and has an especially poor history on Liverpool hospital projects,” Unite said in a statement
Laing O’Rourke was the main contractor on the Alder Hey hospital project in Liverpool, where it frustrated unions’ access to the workforce and barred the appointment of union safety representatives. It is now thought to be in line to take over from Carillion to finish the new Royal Liverpool Hospital.
Unite plans to lobby the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust, local MPs and the local directly elected mayors to press for access to the workforce on the project.
The £335m Royal Liverpool University hospital project was one of three major UK contracts that substantially contributed to the fall of Carillion in January. The discovery of extensive asbestos in the ground caused delays, which were than exacerbated by cracks appearing in concrete beams, requiring substantial remedial works. The new Royal was originally scheduled for handover by March 2017. A revised target had been to open in summer 2018 but this has slipped further now that a replacement contractor has to be found to finish it off.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Workers on the hospital project have been in the frontline of Carillion’s collapse. It is now imperative that a new contractor ensures that workers’ rights are protected and the highest safety levels adhered to.
“It would be a disgrace if this flagship project was completed by a company boosting its profits by exploiting workers, ignoring workplace rights and cutting corners on safety.
“We will be working with local representatives to ensure our concerns are listened to, and further delays to the project are avoided.”