Lessons must be learned from the endemic failures which will result in the Crossrail project being up to two and half years late, in order to ensure other major infrastructure projects are not beset with the same problems and delays, construction union Unite has warned.
Unite believes that many of the failures, delays and increased costs on the project are a direct result of management’s refusal to engage with unions to create a stable industrial relations framework on the project.
Despite Unite attempting to develop sound industrial relations with senior Crossrail management and with tier one contractors, the union was rebuffed at every turn.
The failure to ensure a good working relationship led to a number of strikes and low productivity with workers’ expertise being ignored. Electricians nicknamed Crossrail, the ‘Hokey Cokey’ line, as they were repeatedly told to install wiring and then plans changed and they had to take it out again and restart their work.
There has been a litany of mismanagement, in March 2014 a worker was killed on the project, a death which could have been easily prevented. Unite has repeatedly supported highly skilled operatives who have explicitly stated their fear of victimisation and worse for raising safety issues on jobs overseen by the long supply chain of companies that hire and fire.
The problems at Crossrail are in sharp contrast to other major successful infrastructure projects including Heathrow Terminal 5 and the Olympics, where clear industrial relations frameworks were agreed at an early stage.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The delays and cost overruns at Crossrail are totally unacceptable. This is a public project, funded by the taxpayer and money should have been used efficiently.
“Going forward it is essential that the lessons about poor industrial relations, which have undoubtedly led to problems and delays on the project are not repeated.
“Unite is determined to ensure that mistakes made on Crossrail are not repeated on other major infrastructure projects such as HS2.”