Construction contractor NG Bailey has been accused of undertaking ‘union busting’ and victimisation-type activities in a dispute over the payment of wages.
NG Bailey has proposed to move from a weekly pay system to a four weekly (lunar) system. The company argues this will create considerable cost savings.
Under the Joint Industry Board (JIB) electrical agreement and BESA agreements (for heating and ventilation engineers), which NG Bailey adheres to, such changes in the way workers are paid must be agreed with the relevant union, which is Unite.
As a large number of members made clear that they were very unhappy with the proposals Unite, the UK’s construction union, refused to agree to the changes.
Over 200 individual grievances have been submitted and Unite has also submitted a collective grievance. NG Bailey is seeking to tie the individual and collective grievances together.
In a disturbing development, NG Bailey sent a questionnaire that asks staff directly if they are member of Unite under the guise of determining whether they are submitting an individual or collective grievance. The workers have been told they have to return the questionnaire by this Friday (October 23).
NG Bailey’s desire to force workers to reveal whether they are members of Unite is an attempt to undermine the collective grievance and is highly sinister given that the company was part of the Consulting Association blacklisting scandal and has also been accused of being involved in contemporary blacklisting on Crossrail.
There is no legal requirement for staff members to tell their employer whether or not they are a union member.
Unite national officer Ian Woodland said, “By trying to force workers to reveal if they are members of Unite, NG Bailey is guilty of union busting and potentially victimising trade unionists.
“Rather than deal with the legitimate issues workers have with moving from weekly pay to lunar pay, they are seeking to undermine Unite and weaken workers’ collective voice,” he added.
“Unfortunately, NG Bailey has a long history of being involved in blacklisting. Despite having paid a considerable financial penalty for it in the past, its employee relations department appears not to have learned those lessons.
“NG Bailey need to withdraw this sinister questionnaire, return to the negotiating table and resolve this issue sensibly and without threats or attempts to intimidate workers.”
By Barckley Sumner