Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 5, 2016

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Call for independent inquiry into “Crossrail workplace abuses”

Source: UCATT

Source: UCATT

Construction union UCATT is calling for an urgent independent inquiry into safety and workplace abuses on the Crossrail tunnelling contract being undertaken by contractors ATC Joint Venture (Alstom, TSO and Costain), after workers complained of exhaustion, intimidatory working practices and having to walk up to two miles underground in order to go to the toilet.

Members of the union say workers are being forced to work until they are physically exhausted and are also being required to undertake work that is beyond them. It is also said that canteen facilities are entirely inadequate.

There are currently over 1,000 workers employed by ATC on the tunnelling section of the Crossrail contract.

UCATT has written to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, Crossrail, and the Health and Safety Executive urging them to undertake an independent inquiry into the abuses occurring on the project.

Jerry Swain, UCATT London and the South East Regional Secretary, said: “Not only is this project a disgrace in its treatment of its workforce but there are now serious safety concerns. These issues should cause great alarm amongst ATC and Crossrail management. We need an urgent independent inquiry in order to investigate and end these abuses. The workforce and the country require reassurance that this flagship, state-funded construction project will follow the gold standard for workers’ treatment and workplace conditions. Tunnelling is a dangerous environment.”

Last Thursday (29 September) UCATT held a protest outside the entrance to the tunnelling project over the poor welfare facilities and the failure of the contract’s fingerprint recognition system, which has resulted in many of the workforce not being paid correctly for the work they have undertaken.

UCATT later received reports from workers who had spoken to demonstrators claiming that when they entered the site they were stopped and questioned by site management.

Mr Swain, added: “It’s shameful that management at international construction companies, working on a major state-funded project, are going to extraordinary lengths to keep unions off site. It is like they have their own blacklist. There can be nothing more insulting than working a full shift, in difficult conditions in a tunnel, and then not getting paid. This needs to be rectified.”

SHP approached the ATC joint venture for a comment. A spokesperson said:  “We have robust procedures in place, and have assured our team members that all hours that are worked will be paid. The booking-in system is being fully investigated and as a precaution, a dedicated timekeeper has been placed at Fisher Street to assist with any issues. Negotiations about wages are between the company and our staff.

“With regards to the welfare, facilities are in place where possible. Due to the obvious restrictions within some of the tunnels, ATC is working with the other contractors at the stations to enable the use of their facilities.”

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Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp
7 years ago

Not really surprised, I worked on Crossrail for two years as a H&S Manager – glad to see the back of it.