Unite, the UK’s construction union, has accused the joint venture company Costain/Skanska (CSJV) of union busting in their attempts to block a union official from its Bond Street Crossrail station site, at a time when workers are frightened about air quality following four recent deaths and that its actions risk causing further industrial unrest.
Following the latest two unexplained deaths on the site it was agreed between the client Crossrail and the electrical subcontractors on the project that independent air quality monitoring should take place.
To provide further reassurance to the workforce, who had initially stopped work due to health fears, it was agreed that Unite official Guy Langston and the union’s two health and safety reps on the project would choose the workers who would have their air quality monitored.
The selected workers were fitted with the independent air monitoring kits on site on Tuesday (8 October). These actions have helped to begin restore confidence in the workforce that their health is being taken seriously.
However, the following day Mr Langston received an email from Peter Raza, Head of Employee Relations, stating that he had failed to follow the proper protocols of accessing the site (despite being with the client) and also informing him that while Unite’s safety reps would be allowed to be in attendance when the results of the monitoring will be delivered, Mr Langston was not invited to attend.
The effective barring of Unite officials from the site appears to be part of the CSJV’s playbook and follows its refusal to allow Unite standard access to its Euston HS2 site.
Unite has now written to Mr Raza seeking confirmation that Mr Langston has been excluded from receiving the air quality monitoring results.
“Costain and Skanska have sunk to a new low,” said Unite national officer Jerry Swain.
“While Unite’s official has been going the extra mile to ensure that workers are reassured about their safety, following recent tragic events, there primary focus is to continue their union busting,” he added.
“Unite’s official accompanied the client Crossrail for an inspection of the site, to provide reassurance to CSJV’s workforce for which he is upbraided.
“Excluding the union official from attending the results of the air quality monitoring testing is only going to further unsettle the workforce and make it appear there is something to hide,” Swain went on to say.
“Crossrail and the electrical subcontractors have been exemplary in their conduct during this tragic time and have done a huge amount to restore confidence in the workforce, the same cannot be said for CSJV.
“CSJV’s union busting at Bond Street risks causing further industrial relations issues especially during this time of heightened concerns.
“Crossrail as the client needs to pull its contractor CSJV into line if it wishes to avoid further potential delays.”