Unite has established a cross sector (hub) committee to protect and enhance the job, pay and conditions of workers operating within the new Teesside freeport.
The vast freeport is set to be the largest in the UK, stretching to the size of 2500 football pitches with the promise of thousands of jobs being created.
Unite has stated that freeports must not be used to develop `rights-free’ zones with lower wages and poorer conditions for the workforce. The hub committee, which consists of shop stewards and reps from companies in the local area, has been set up to defend terms and conditions and ensure that the Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen delivers on his promise of creating thousands of skilled jobs.
Unite Regional Officer Pat McCourt said, “While we welcome the creation of potentially thousands of new jobs on Teesside, it is just as important that the workers who will make this freeport a success are fairly rewarded, enjoying secure employment with good terms and conditions.
“Unite is determined that there will be no race to the bottom in this freeport,” McCourt added. “The North East has had enough of decent jobs being lost and replaced with insecure, low waged work.
“The Teesside freeport can level up this region but only if well-paid, stable and skilled work is at its heart, and we will be pressing Ben Houchen to deliver on this.
“The aim of the Teesside hub committee is to ensure that workers have a voice in the freeport and that any benefits are not just confined to the boardroom but are seen on the dockside.”
Unite is the recognised union at many of the major employers involved in the freeport, which is being led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
The Unite Teesside hub has called on mayor Houchen and the freeport governing body to commit to working constructively with trade unions to make sure any opportunities from the freeport are shared with workers and genuine protections are secured.
The hub will link shop stewards and reps across all relevant sectors to defend jobs, pay and conditions throughout the freeport.
By Barckley Sumner