A campaign by Unite, the construction union, to ensure that workers building the Royal Liverpool hospital are treated fairly and without exploitation, received a significant boost at this weekend’s (November 3-4) North West Labour conference, which unanimously passed a motion demanding fair treatment of the workforce.
Work on the Royal Liverpool Hospital has been stalled since the main contractor Carillion collapsed in January. Despite the hospital being officially 85 per cent complete, it is believed that £100m (out of an initial budget of £325 million) needs to be spent on remedial work due to cracked beams and unsafe cladding.
Concerns about the potential mistreatment of the workforce increased last month when the local hospital trust announced that Laing O’Rourke, which has a reputation as being anti-union, had been appointed as the replacement main contractor.
The motion passed at the North West Labour party conference said, “It would be intolerable if the Royal Liverpool hospital was completed by construction workers who experienced mistreatment and exploitation on the project, whilst operating in an anti-union environment.”
The conference resolved to call for all Labour representatives and constituency Labour Parties in the North West to fully support the campaign to ensure that Laing O’Rourke fully complies with Unite’s demands.
Unite is calling for national industrial agreements to be adopted and adhered to on the project; for all workers to be directly employed and not falsely self-employed; for umbrella companies and other forms of exploitative employment models to be barred from the project; and for the adoption of the highest levels of health and safety.
Unite is also calling for construction unions and their representatives to be given full and fair access to the workplace.
Unite will now step up its campaign to apply pressure on the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust, to ensure that Laing O’Rourke addresses Unite’s concerns.
A meeting with the Trust’s chief executive Aidan Kehoe to discuss Unite’s concerns has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 13. Unite has also written to Mr Kehoe seeking an urgent tripartite meeting between the Trust, Laing O’Rourke and Unite.
Unite regional officer Colin Carr said, “The unanimous support of the entire regional Labour party, is a major fillip in the campaign to ensure justice for construction workers employed on the Royal Liverpool hospital site.
“Unite is now stepping up its campaign to secure community backing for construction workers, employed on the site, to be treated fairly and decently.
“Given all the problems associated with this project and how the community has joined together to ensure the project is completed, it would be intolerable if the project was completed by workers who were not treated properly.
“Any suggestion that workers will be denied proper access to unions, will tarnish the legacy of the project.”
Unite has secured the support of Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and the Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram who have participated in a video supporting Unite’s campaign below: