Daily pickets are supporting the 28 workers employed by electrical contractor EIS who lost their jobs when the firm’s Crossrail contract was terminated.
The £14.8 billion London Crossrail project, which is going to be one of the largest infrastructure jobs in Western Europe, is entirely funded by the Greater London Authority, Transport for London and central government. Management claim the EIS contract had come to an end but workers see this is as a deliberate attempt at intimidation and excluding unions from the project to keep wages down and force through rushed production targets.
Deputy regional secretary for Unite’s London & Eastern region, Vince Passfield said, “Unite at a Crossrail site at Westbourne Park successfully organised the workforce and appointed a site steward and Health & Safety (H&S) rep for EIS Ltd, which is a contractor working under BFK (Bam-Ferrovial-Kiers). Having raised serious H&S concerns, the H&S rep was himself unnecessarily suspended on a minor infringement and five weeks later transferred off site.
“Two workers, who took photos of serious H&S concerns and raised them with management, were also transferred off site under the instruction of BFK. The shop steward then raised further concerns and was subsequently isolated from other workers. Unite raised these concerns direct with Crossrail.
“Two weeks later BFK cancelled the EIS Ltd contract (which was previously extended to September 2013) citing that the work was now complete. This action effectively dismissed 28 workers without good reason.”
Unite’s Regional Construction Officer Harry Cowap added, “They have terminated the EIS contract purely to remove the shop steward and safety rep” and warned that it could lead to a “major catastrophe”.
At Chatham Docks, 15 Unite members, working on prefabricated tunnel segments for the contractors DSJV, were laid off after the agency Cheema Group decided to drive down wages, after being awarded the contract by Crossrail. Unite have been seeking a project agreement with Crossrail for over a year. Massive pressure is necessary to force them to do a deal. This is a major battle for the entire labour movement.
Central London’s Oxford Street was blocked by 10ft x 20ft banners during a protest at the Tottenham Court Road site. After over five weeks (at the time of writing) the daily pickets at Westbourne Park are having an impact. If possible, please join the 7am-12pm pickets, and raise support in your organisations.