Tuesday, March 1, 2016

News: Unions protest at Rotherham construction site

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Engineering construction workers are protesting at a site in Rotherham today over "unscrupulous" construction companies they say are exploiting workers.

GMB members in engineering construction are holding three separate protest demonstrations in Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire against undercutting of workers on three energy from waste power station construction sites.

Construction began last year on the £150m biomass-fired power plant project at Templeborough where Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S, the Danish subsidiary of the giant US Babcock & Wilcox Company, will design, manufacture and operate the plant, with Interserve responsible for its construction.

The GMB Union claims that skilled workers on the site are being paid about £7 per hour and that the subsidiary has declined to follow National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) which covers infrastructure like power stations, oil refineries and transport installations. Under that agreement the rate for skilled workers is £16.64 per hour.

Under the EU Posted Workers Directive contractors employing labour from third countries are obliged to follow sector agreements like the NAECI agreement but increasingly employers are ignoring this legal requirement.

Bob McNeill, GMB Regional organiser, said: "GMB members have negotiated and honoured the Terms and Conditions of our National Agreement (NAECI) for decades and I support our members’ campaign for the National Agreement to be fully implemented on the Rotherham site.

"Interserve and Babcock Wilcox VØlund are undermining our agreement by exploiting non UK workers and paying inferior terms and conditions. This is nothing other than social dumping."

Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for engineering construction, added: "GMB members in the Engineering Construction Sector are being debarred from employment on energy from waste (EfW) facilities being built around the UK.

"Unscrupulous construction companies using spurious umbrella companies exploit non UK workers at rates of pay as low as £7 per hour rather than paying £16.64 per hour which is the applicable rate through direct employment and utilising UK collective agreements."

GMB and Unite intend to launch a major campaign to raise the profile of the issues.

Unite and UCATT Unions area also taking part in the protest and are also calling on the contractors to guarantee that workers on the projects will be employed directly to stop workers being exploited by bogus self-employment schemes run by sub-contractors, employment agencies and "umbrella" payment companies. Babcock & Wilcox Vølund awarded the Croatian company Ðuro Ðavokic the contract to manufacture and install the main boilers for all three energy plants.

GMB Union website

Images: Sky Filming / Facebook

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