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HS2 ‘Scrooge’ protest

Ryan Fletcher, Tuesday, December 17th, 2019


A demonstration was held early this morning (17 December) at the blighted HS2 Costain/Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) site at Euston in Central London.

 

The protest was a direct result of the CSJV management acting like Scrooge and spurning Unite’s offer of a ‘Turkey truce’.

 

 

Unite wrote to the senior management of CSJV last month and made the offer of ceasing all demonstrations at the site in December as a gesture of goodwill in return for all the workers on the site receiving a voucher of £25 in order to buy a turkey.

 

The voucher could have served as a goodwill gesture to the workforce and created the right atmosphere to allow both parties to resolve the problems that exist on the site.

 

The greatest concern of workers is the failure of the CSJV to apply the appropriate national agreements. This has resulted in some workers losing up to £100 a week in overtime payments.

 

However CSJV gave the offer ‘the bird’ and failed even to acknowledge Unite’s peace offering.

 

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Denying access

The demonstrations at the site are as a result of Costain and Skanska denying Unite access to their members and the wider workforce during their breaks in the workplace canteen, as is common practice on most sites.

 

In doing so CSJV has driven a coach and horses through the agreement signed between unions and the HS2 management, over conditions on the project and union access.

 

Despite the lack of access Unite has continued to recruit heavily on the site. Its activities have uncovered a host of workplace issues including the underpayment of both overtime and holidays, the use of umbrella companies which is prohibited and the failure to pay for workers to have the correct accident and death benefit cover.

 

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Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said, “As Christmas nears Costain and Skanska have revealed that the spirit of Scrooge is alive and well.

 

“Costain and Skanska’s failure to pay the correct overtime rates has cost workers on the site thousands.

 

“Unite suggested a ‘Turkey truce’, which would have acted as a goodwill gesture and created a less hostile environment in which to negotiate and resolve the real and growing problems on site.

 

“Yet CSJV is so arrogant and cares so little for the workforce, it did not even acknowledge this peace offering and instead gave it ‘the bird’.

 

“As a result protests, which could cause considerable disruption, are continuing and will do so into 2020.

 

“Both Costain and Skanska are infamous in the blacklisting scandal and their current behaviour shows they learnt little or nothing and continue with their union busting activities

 

“The question remains why are Costain and Skanksa prepared to become the pariahs of the industry? What else have they got to hide?”

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