Unite access win

Unite secures access agreement for HS2 Old Oak Common after ‘relentless’ campaign

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Unite has secured an access agreement for HS2 Old Oak Common after a ‘relentless’ campaign.

Unite officers’ hard work in the construction sector has resulted in a new agreement being signed with BBVS. This leaves SCS as the only joint HS2 venture without a union access agreement.

The agreement to allow trade union access to the HS2 Old Oak Common construction site was signed on Tuesday (April 23) between joint venture company Balfour Beatty, Vinca, SYSTRA (BBVS) and Unite.

The agreement secures the right of Unite representatives to visit the project’s inductions. It also allows Unite representatives access to rest facilities to talk to all workers on the site during their breaks to deal with any concerns or worries they may have.

It was signed after a ‘relentless’ two-year campaign by Unite, which included regular demonstrations, leafletting workers and resolving their concerns.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This agreement is the culmination of two years of relentless campaigning by Unite to gain formal access to the Old Oak Common site. Construction workers can now speak directly to Unite about all employment and safety concerns.

“Unite is now in a stronger position to help defend and improve jobs, pay and conditions for HS2 workers at Old Oak Common.”

Unite now has site access agreements with four out of five of the joint venture companies working on HS2: BBVS, Align, EKFB and Mace/Dragados.

The only joint venture company to remain without such an agreement is Skanska, Costain, Strabag (SCS), which is responsible for the project’s London tunnels.

Unite regional officer Declan Murphy said, “Agreeing trade union site access should be a matter of course for all construction contractors. But the successful campaign to achieve the agreement with BBVS shows that Unite will overcome any obstacle put in its way to ensure workers are not denied union access.”

“Unite will now be turning its complete attention to securing a site access agreement for SCS workers.”

By Keith Hatch

Pictured L-R Unite national officer Jerry Swain, Unite regional officer Declan Murphy, head of HR Lucy Sandall and station construction manager Brendan Seymour