GMB In Further Protest Outside Wilton International On Friday 31st July Over Exclusion Of Local Workers From Teesside Waste To Energy Construction Site
The local community and the Teesside Construction Committee can only assume that the subcontractors on site, with SITA Sembcorp at the helm, and the Merseyside Waste Authority (MWA) overseeing their plant’s construction, are indeed ‘exploiting’ their workforce for financial gain says GMB.
GMB members will be attending a further public protest outside the construction site at Wilton, Redcar on Friday 31st July from 5 a.m. organised by the Teesside Construction Committee (TCC) on undercutting.
The protest is over the discrimination against the employment of local workers and undercutting on the agreed rates of pay on the construction of a new purpose-built energy-from-waste facility at Wilton, Redcar for SITA for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority.
GMB questioned whether the requirement for workers who can speak English to have UK flag stickers on their hats and to have at least 1 worker in 10 able to speak English meets the requirement of health and safety legislation. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release of 1st May on this after a Baldwin crane driver on site was hospitalised when injured when de-rigging his crane losing three fingers.
The site is at the Wilton Centre, Redcar, Cleveland TS10. 4RF. There have been previous demonstrations at the site and marches in Redcar on 18th April and 16th May on this organized by the Teesside Construction Committee.
SITA SEMBCORP UK, a consortium led by SITA UK, was selected as preferred bidder for a resource recovery contract worth £1.18 billion over 30 years with the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority. The other consortium members are Sembcorp Utilities UK and I-Environment, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Itochu Corporation.
The contract is to manage over 430,000 tonnes of residual household waste each year from Merseyside and Halton. Total capital investment for the facilities will be around £250 million. Both key facilities are expected to be operational by 2016. In total, 75 permanent new jobs will be created by the contract with hundreds more temporary jobs during the construction of the two new facilities. The new energy-from-waste facility will generate electricity for the equivalent of 63,000 homes.
Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer said "SITA Sembcorp have been playing the old chestnut of delay tactics with the Trade unions on the Wilton 11 construction site, with both site access and transparency, regarding a forensic audit of all its subcontractors claims of pay parity, and terms and conditions to the National Agreements. GMB doubt this claim.
SITA Sembcorp, by it’s own reticence to supply the Trade Unions with a forensic audit of all their subcontractors is admitting its guilt. The local community and the Teesside Construction Committee can only assume that the subcontractors on site, with SITA Sembcorp at the helm and the Merseyside Waste Authority (MWA) overseeing their plant’s construction, are indeed ‘exploiting’ their workforce for financial gain. Until this is clarified the peaceful weekly protests will continue.
This protest is not against European labour working in this country but unscrupulous employers who insist on undercutting existing terms and conditions.
There is now going to be an EU referendum in 2017. We need to face up to the concerns over more fundamental problems about Europe. Whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.
The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation and undermining of condition in check.
That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employer have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision.
If what David Cameron brings back from the negotiations tilts the balance even further away from standards for workers, as the CBI seem to want, many organizations traditionally in favour will campaign for a No vote.”
Contact: Phil Whitehurst GMB Organiser on 07968 338810 or GMB 0191 233 3930 or GMB press office 07974 251823.
Notes to Editors:
GMB press release dated 1st May:
REQUIRING 1 IN 10 WORKERS ON TEESSIDE SITE TO SPEAK ENGLISH AND WEAR HAT WITH STICKER TO IDENTIFY THEM DOES NOT MEET SAFETY LAW SAYS GMB
Law requires providing translation, using interpreters, or replacing written notes with clearly understood symbols or diagrams on site where there was a serious incident this week says GMB
GMB, the union for construction workers, is calling on SITA SEMBCORP UK to clarify how it is complying with Regulation 10 of the management of Health& Safety at Work legislation on the construction site at Wilton, Redcar building a facility for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority.
Earlier this week the company confirmed that an employee working for site contractor, Baldwin Crane Hire Ltd, suffered a serious injury whilst de-rigging a crane. The employee was taken immediately to hospital, where he underwent surgery.
There have been several protests that local workers have been excluded and that the project is being built predominately using European labour that are being paid £5 per hour less the current national agreement for the engineering and construction industry. See notes to editors for recent GMB press releases on the dispute.
GMB has copies of the minutes of the site safety meeting held on 7th April which says:
“6.6 English speaking stickers to be applied to relevant hats
6.7 Confirmation of 1 in 10 English Speaking English speakers assigned to each working party
6.8 CV and certificates to be supplied for all operatives upon site”
GMB is asking the company to clarify how it is complying with Regulation 10 of the management of H&S at work -Information for employees- which states as follows:
“Employers must provide employees with comprehensible and relevant information on
· Risks to their health and safety identified by risk assessments
· the related preventive and protective measures
· emergency procedures and evacuation co-ordination
· risks notified to them by other employers in shared workplaces
John McClean, GMB National Health and Safety Officer, said “it is not clear that the company is complying with the requirement of Regulation 10 of the management of H&S at work.
The Guidance provides that the information provided should be pitched appropriately, given the level of training, knowledge and experience of the employees. It should be provided in a form which takes account of any language difficulties or disabilities. Information can be provided in whatever form is most suitable in the circumstances, as long as it can be understood by everyone.
For employees with little or no understanding of English, or who cannot read English, employers may need to make special arrangements. These would include providing translation, using interpreters, or replacing written notes with clearly understood symbols or diagrams".
This should include the procedure for reporting and recording accidents, if the method includes more than one language and if the information is provided to the Responsible person on site in an understandable manner.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for construction, said “I am told that the Baldwin crane driver hospitalised when injured when de-rigging his crane lost three fingers.
Sita SembCorp is employing migrant workers on this project with no comprehension of English. Asking for those who can speak English to have stickers on their hats, and to have at least 1 worker in 10 to have a stickered hat does not meet the requirement as set out in Regulation 10.
Sita SembCorp should be providing some simple training on key phrases from day one. Having workers on site who are not able to raise the alarm when hazards are identified puts everyone at risk.
For a year the company refused to allow Trade Union Officers on the site. After all the protests Sita SembCorp have limited that access by not allowing trade union interpreters to accompany them and speak to all on site. They also brow beat workers not to attend any meetings or speak to the unions. As a consequence not one migrant has spoken to the officers on two visits.
I put this to a SembCorp representative who spoke to me yesterday (30th April) on the gate. He assured me he will broker a meeting with myself and my Unite counterpart and the local officers to discuss these allegations, but I won't hold my breath on that one just yet.
In view of the serious incident occurred earlier this week we expect full involvement in any investigation to determine whether the inability to raise concerns effectively may have been a contributing factor.”