Workers at the King’s Cross Channel Tunnel site have rejected new contracts brought in by their employer, Laing O’Rourke. A revolt over the contract is spreading across the company.
Laing O’Rourke wants to start directly employing its workers. At the moment they are self-emplolyed. The change will mean cutting basic pay by a half and introducing a bonus system. 45% of the workers wages will now be conditional on bonuses. Those bonuses will be decided by management. A day off must be planned 40 days in advance and holiday pay could be cut by £20 per day for each worker.
Part of the problem has been with the union which organises some of the workers, UCATT. They negotiated this new deal without consultation with its members. The GMB has been barred from entering the site in contravention of construction industry agreements.
Workers at the King’s Cross site have already had two unofficial walkouts to hold workplace meetings.
And workers at the following additonal sites have all refused to sign and potentially face the sack: Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Kent sites; Canary Wharf redevelopment scheme; Newham Hospital, London; Terminal 5, Heathrow, Middlesex; Ascot Racecourse Redevelopment Scheme, Berkshire; Paradise Street Development, Liverpool; Gatwick Airport, Sussex; John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford; and construction projects for Police stations & facilities for the Greater Manchester Police Authority, Manchester.
The following is the text of a leaflet that has been distributed at the site:
“The tax-man is the driving force behind the new contract. We’re all going to end up on the cards whether we like it or not. The question is whether we go on PAYE with a cut in money or with the same take home pay as now. The new contract cuts our basic pay and introduces a complicated bonus system that can be withheld at management discretion. No one denies this not even the company.
The company is trying every trick to con us into accepting the new contrick. We are being called into small meetings where UCATT union officials and company managers telling us to sign up to the deal or else we will be down the road. UCATT should be ashamed of themselves — they have become part of the Laing ORourkes machinery — industrial relations policemen against the workforce.
Against all the national agreements in the construction industry, Laing ORourkes are trying to ban GMB union officials from the CTRL site. What are they scared of? A workplace meeting that might elect reps and upset the applecart?
The contract has been agreed between UCATT and Laing O’Rourkes as some kind of national sweetheart deal. The shuttering chippies, concrete finishers, groundworkers, plant operators and labourers who do the actual work on Laing O’Rourkes jobs have not been part of the negotiations. But it is us who will suffer because of it. We have not given our consent to the deal. We demand no cut in pay. We all have bills, rent, mortgages to pay — we need guaranteed money not a promise of it if the site agent thinks we deserve it.
There should be a national ballot of all Laing O’Rourkes workers to accept or reject the deal.
If there is going to be a new contract, then we demand:
No cut in take home pay; full holiday pay; full sick pay, pension scheme, effective start date for everybody should be when they start working, not when they sign the contract.
This deal needs to be re-negotiated NOW. They can try their bully-boy tactics all they like but if we stick together across this job and all the other projects, we can get this con-trick overturned.