Construction News

Fri December 13 2019

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Union demonstration at HS2 site

20 Nov Unite, the construction union, is planning a demonstration at Euston station in London this morning as part of its long-running campaign to get union recognition from Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) on its HS2 enabling works project.

Library photo of Unite demonstration
Library photo of Unite demonstration

Unite says that Costain and Skanska have refused to allow Unite officials access to workers in the site’s canteen and welfare areas, during break times. The union also claims to have uncovered ‘a substantial number of workplace abuses’, including ‘a regime of underpaid overtime which is costing workers on average £100 a week’.

Other allegations include the failure to pay workers for the correct number of holidays, the use of umbrella payroll companies and the failure to provide workers with the correct accident and death benefits.

Several of these issues relate to suppliers and subcontractors on the project but Unite is focusing its campaign on Costain and Skanska.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “Unite is determined to increase the pressure on CSJV to end its union busting and allow the union to have fair and normal access to the workforce. By refusing to allow normal access CSJV are ignoring the commitments made by the client HS2 and it is tarnishing the good name of the entire project.

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“The CSJV say they are treating the workforce well and are playing by the rules but if that was the case why are they not allowing Unite officials on its site and preventing the workforce from electing their own shop stewards and safety reps.

“This demonstration is expected to be the largest yet at the project and Unite is committed to increasing the intensity of the demonstrations until this matter is resolved.”

As previously reported, CSJV says: “We have offered Unite access to our Euston site, which exceeds levels usually seen across the industry. They have not taken up this offer. This would enable Unite to meet with all our operatives at inductions, work site and our welfare area outside break times. Our offer to Unite remains open.”

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