A union has warned that targeting unions reps for raising safety concerns could lead to tragedy on a London site. The comments from Unite came as union members protested outside a west London Crossrail site at the dismissal of 28 workers, allegedly for raising health and safety concerns.
The workers employed by contractor EIS lost their jobs last week when the firm’s Crossrail contract was terminated. They claim EIS was taken off the job by the Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) consortium – which won the bid to build the Crossrail tunnels – after its workers raised safety concerns.
Unite London regional construction officer Harry Cowap told the Morning Star that the attack on health and safety and unionised workers could lead to a “major catastrophe” on the site. “Management refused to speak to me today because they felt ‘under duress’,” he said. “How must the men and women feel who lost their jobs?”
The union believes Unite safety rep Rodney Valentine was removed from the site immediately after he was elected and was subsequently moved, suspended and dismissed. It adds that shop steward Frank Morris was banned from the site after raising concerns over dangerous cables in the tunnels. Unite’s Harry Cowap commented: “They have terminated the EIS contract purely to remove the shop steward and safety rep.”
Crossrail challenged the union’s claims saying the contract with EIS had run its course. A spokesperson said: “Crossrail regards the safety of all those working on the Crossrail project as paramount and is committed to delivering Crossrail to the highest standards of safety at all times.”
The grassroots Site Worker group, though, sees it differently. Its organising flyer (reproduced in full below) claims: “Crossrail is going to be one of the largest infrastructure jobs in the whole of Western Europe – if it is unionised, the workforce will earn good wages and the job will be safe. This is a deliberate attempt by BFK to intimidate workers and keep the union off the project, so they can keep wages down and force through rushed production targets.”
It concludes: “This is a dispute about safety and money. Even the EIS electrical engineer was sacked after he took a photograph of unsafe high voltage electrical cables. BFK are making money by playing with our lives.”
Site Worker flyer
SACKED FOR JOINING A UNION
28 workers including a UNITE steward and safety rep have been dismissed from the Crossrail project because of they are members of a trade union. The unionised workers employed by E.I.S. Electrical were searched and removed from site last Friday at the instruction of Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), the consortium of contractors building Crossrail.
Crossrail is going to be one of the largest infrastructure jobs in the whole of Western Europe – if it is unionised, the workforce will earn good wages and the job will be safe. This is a deliberate attempt by BFK to intimidate workers and keep the union off the project, so they can keep wages down and force through rushed production targets.
Whatever nonsense BFK come up with to justify the dismissals, everyone knows there are 3-4 years work left on the project for these sparks alone. But as soon as the union appeared on the job, the steward was banned from the tunnel and forced to sit in the site offices at Westbourne Park for weeks on end. The Safety Rep was suspended and left to sit at home for the past 13 weeks. Eventually BFK threw EIS off the job just to get rid of the union.
The Managing Director of E.I.S. has given the union a witness statement and states that the only reason the workers and the reps have been removed from the job is because of the union presence.
This is a dispute about safety and money. Even the EIS electrical engineer was sacked after he took a photograph of unsafe high voltage electrical cables. BFK are making money by playing with our lives.
BFK want to save money on Crossrail
We want to save lives on Crossrail
BAM and Kier (part of the BFK consortium) are proven blacklisters of trade union members. They were part of the Consulting Association blacklisting conspiracy exposed in 2009. There is documentary evidence that their senior managers and Directors have illegally victimised union members. We know exactly what they’ve been up to – We’re not going to stand for it on Crossrail. The sparks won their fight against BESNA pay cuts – The rank & file will win the fight for Crossrail.
- SUPPORT THE VICTIMISED CROSSRAIL SPARKS
- END THE BLACKLIST
- UNIONISE CROSSRAIL – ELECT YOUR OWN REPS
- FOR BETTER MONEY & BETTER SAFETY