The Highways Agency is cutting costs, the union says, by reducing the required service levels as contracts are renewed.
The Area 10 highways management contract, which is the second largest in the country and covers the M60 and M62 area, is set to be transferred from existing contractor A1 plus to Balfour Beatty/Mott McDonald on the 4 November. The new contractor is proposing to reduce blue collar staff numbers by more than 50% from 220 to 103.
As part of the cuts all Incident Support Units (ISUs) will be removed. The support units play a crucial role in protecting workers in making temporary highways repairs and help to ensure incidents are minimised and traffic is kept moving.
Since the introduction of ISUs six years ago there have not been any fatal accidents or serious injuries involving workers in Area 10. Prior to their introduction, there had been four fatalities on the network.
Ucatt fears that the staffing reductions will threaten delivery of winter maintenance programmes, especially during prolonged spells of bad weather. This further increases safety concerns.
Acting regional secretary Jimmy Woods said: “These savage cuts are bad news for everybody. They will decrease safety for workers and road users and will lead to increased delays on the road network.
“It is simply impossible to operate this contract with so few staff; all parties must come together and agree a realistic way forward.”