Unite has written to the company building an energy from waste site in Ellesmere Port, accusing it of engaging in practices resulting in a race to the bottom for construction workers conditions and undermining national construction agreements.
The Hooton Park project is being built by Danish company Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC), at the Peel Environmental site. At its peak the site will employ over 400 construction workers on the project.
Once operational the client Cogen will process 240,000 tonnes of waste into energy every year.
BWSC has indicated that they will pay wage rates in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) however BWSC has refused to sign up to the agreement, denying workers overtime rates and other benefits, workers are denied employment protection and Unite is denied access to the site.
Unite believes the failure to sign up to the NAECI agreement also indicates that the BWSC is also failing to meet the provisions on the training of apprentices, which is resulting in a further widening of the construction skills gaps.
Unite has secured the support of the local MP Justin Madders who raised concerns about the undermining of the NAECI agreement and the race to the bottom in Parliament last week (Thursday 28 March).
The actions of BWSC would be illegal in its home country due to the way Denmark has interpreted the European Union’s Posted Workers Directive. Under their interpretation all companies are obliged to follow the relevant industrial agreement.
“Unite members have made it clear that they are not going to stand idly by and allow a race to the bottom, where their pay and conditions are constantly eroded,” said Unite regional officer Steve Benson.
“Unite will be further enlisting the support of local MPs to assist with our campaign,” he added
“It is the height of hypocrisy that BWSC is prepared to undermine construction industrial agreements in the UK, when it is required by law to apply them when operating at home.
“If Cogen and BWSC do not swiftly right this wrong then further action will be taken to ensure that they do so.”