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‘Mismanagement and failure’

Liverpool hospital: Newly revealed problems underline need for fair employment practices
Barckley Sumner, Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Unite is calling on the contractors preparing to restart work on the troubled Royal Liverpool hospital to ensure first class employment rights, in order to avoid further problems and delays on the project.


Unite made its call after a new report revealed that further problems have been identified, including with the lighting, demolition and asbestos removal. The report also warns that the expected final cost of the project is likely to rise further.


Earlier surveys have already unveiled serious problems with the hospital’s load carrying beams and that its cladding failed fire tests. Although the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust has not revealed the cost of completing the hospital, costs in excess of £100 million have not been denied.


The trust has appointed contractors Laing O’Rourke and Mace to complete the project. Unite has secured a meeting next week with senior Laing O’Rourke representatives to discuss employment practices once the project restarts.


“This latest report is more bad news for the patients who rely on the Royal Liverpool hospital and the staff who work there,” said Unite regional officer Colin Carr. “This report feels like it is preparing everyone for more bad news, which is likely to lead to further delays and increasing costs.


“The entire history of this project is one of mismanagement and failure. It is essential that these mistakes are not repeated in finally completing the project.


“That is why it is essential that unions are given proper access to the workforce and other measures are implemented and policed to prevent exploitation of construction workers.


“If the workforce is not properly treated then it is almost inevitable that delays in completing this hospital which is desperately needed in Liverpool will further escalate.”


Unite is seeking to ensure that workers are not exploited when work restarts. This includes a commitment to outlaw umbrella companies and false self-employment, the honouring of industrial agreements and full unhindered access for the workforce to construction unions.


The original budget for the new hospital was £335 million. Work on the project, which was officially 85 per cent complete, has been stalled since January 2018 when the original contractor Carillion collapsed. The hospital will now be over three years late and patients and staff are having to continue to use the existing hospital which is no longer fit for purpose.


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