Unite has new evidence of a co-ordinated campaign to slash pay rates on the troubled £800 million energy from waste project at Park Adfer in Deeside North Wales.
Last week (May 30) hundreds of construction workers staged a protest at the Park Adfer site in protest at the ongoing exploitative practices which are driving down wages and conditions on the taxpayer funded site.
Workers on the site are being paid just the living wage of £8.75 an hour which is an eye watering 61 per cent below the standard rate of £17.39 an hour and £2.37 Incentive Bonus Arrangement for this type of work which is covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) agreement.
Following a meeting between senior union officials led by Unite in Warsaw and Jerzy Swieca vice president of Mostostal Pulawy, who have been sub-contracted to undertake the traditional mechanical engineering work at Park Adfer, it was admitted that they had been instructed to tender the work at living wage rates, with a small additional payment made to welders.
Mr Swieca also admitted that the entire 70 strong workforce employed on this contract has being recruited directly from Poland, effectively barring skilled local workers from applying for the work.
In a further development Julian Harrison, project director of Wheelabrator, the United States based company, which is the client on the project, has deliberately tried to justify their actions by wrongly stating, “with regards to the central issue of NAECI at Parc Adfer, as far as I’m aware it has never been used on a public procurement and cannot be retrospectively applied.” Neither statement is true.
To add insult to injury both Mostostal Pulawy and Wheelabarator are both involved in the Ferrybridge power station development in West Yorkshire, where the workforce is being paid NAECI rates for the work being undertaken.
The Park Adfer project is public funded and the work is being undertaken on behalf of the North Wales Residual Waste Treatment Partnership which is led by Flintshire county council and also includes Conwy borough council, Denbighshire county council, Gwynedd county council and Isle of Anglesey county council.
The partnership and in particular Flintshire council, which is leading the project, have been accused of turning their backs on the exploitation and race to the bottom on pay rates occurring on their watch.
Unite national officer for construction Bernard McAulay said,“The companies and the councils involved are cynically creating a race to the bottom on pay which is likely to lead to vital skills being lost from our industry.
“Wheelabrator and the other companies involved are lining their coffers on the backs of sweated labour.
“The rate for the job must apply regardless of where the worker is from. To fail to pay the correct rate is to deliberately exploit workers and is the equivalent of Working Life Criminality in order to feather their own nests.
“The councils involved in this project, especially Flintshire, are dragging the good name of local government and public sector projects into disrepute. Public projects must be for the public good and that must include fair treatment of workers.”