Requiring 1 In 10 Workers On Teesside Site To Speak English And Wear Hat With Sticker To Identify Them Does Not Meet Safety Law Says GMB
Law requires providing translation, using interpreters, or replacing written notes with clearly understood symbols or diagrams on site where there was a serious incident this week says GMB
GMB, the union for construction workers, is calling on SITA SEMBCORP UK to clarify how it is complying with Regulation 10 of the management of Health& Safety at Work legislation on the construction site at Wilton, Redcar building a facility for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority.
Earlier this week the company confirmed that an employee working for site contractor, Baldwin Crane Hire Ltd, suffered a serious injury whilst de-rigging a crane. The employee was taken immediately to hospital, where he underwent surgery.
There have been several protests that local workers have been excluded and that the project is being built predominately using European labour that are being paid £5 per hour less the current national agreement for the engineering and construction industry. See notes to editors for recent GMB press releases on the dispute.
GMB has copies of the minutes of the site safety meeting held on 7th April which says:
“6.6 English speaking stickers to be applied to relevant hats
6.7 Confirmation of 1 in 10 English Speaking English speakers assigned to each working party
6.8 CV and certificates to be supplied for all operatives upon site”
GMB is asking the company to clarify how it is complying with Regulation 10 of the management of H&S at work -Information for employees- which states as follows:
“Employers must provide employees with comprehensible and relevant information on
· Risks to their health and safety identified by risk assessments
· the related preventive and protective measures
· emergency procedures and evacuation co-ordination
· risks notified to them by other employers in shared workplaces
John McClean, GMB National Health and Safety Officer, said “it is not clear that the company is complying with the requirement of Regulation 10 of the management of H&S at work.
The Guidance provides that the information provided should be pitched appropriately, given the level of training, knowledge and experience of the employees. It should be provided in a form which takes account of any language difficulties or disabilities. Information can be provided in whatever form is most suitable in the circumstances, as long as it can be understood by everyone.
For employees with little or no understanding of English, or who cannot read English, employers may need to make special arrangements. These would include providing translation, using interpreters, or replacing written notes with clearly understood symbols or diagrams".
This should include the procedure for reporting and recording accidents, if the method includes more than one language and if the information is provided to the Responsible person on site in an understandable manner.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for construction, said “I am told that the Baldwin crane driver hospitalised when injured when de-rigging his crane lost three fingers.
Sita SembCorp is employing migrant workers on this project with no comprehension of English. Asking for those who can speak English to have stickers on their hats, and to have at least 1 worker in 10 to have a stickered hat does not meet the requirement as set out in Regulation 10.
Sita SembCorp should be providing some simple training on key phrases from day one. Having workers on site who are not able to raise the alarm when hazards are identified puts everyone at risk.
For a year the company refused to allow Trade Union Officers on the site. After all the protests Sita SembCorp have limited that access by not allowing trade union interpreters to accompany them and speak to all on site. They also brow beat workers not to attend any meetings or speak to the unions. As a consequence not one migrant has spoken to the officers on two visits.
I put this to a SembCorp representative who spoke to me yesterday (30th April) on the gate. He assured me he will broker a meeting with myself and my Unite counterpart and the local officers to discuss these allegations, but I won't hold my breath on that one just yet.
In view of the serious incident occurred earlier this week we expect full involvement in any investigation to determine whether the inability to raise concerns effectively may have been a contributing factor.”
Contact Michael Blench 07870 176 748 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB 0191 233 3930 or GMB press office 07921 289880.
Notes to editors
Copies of GMB press releases on this dispute:
GMB release dated 28th April.
GMB WELCOME LABOUR PLEDGE TO MAKE UNDERCUTTING ILLEGAL AS TEESSIDE WORKERS PLAN FURTHER PROTEST AT REDCAR ON THURSDAY APRIL 30TH
Enforcing law with unit with investigatory powers would help undercut workers at the energy from waste construction site at Redcar where workers being undercut by £5 an hour
GMB, the union for construction workers, welcome the pledge by Ed Miliband that a Labour Government would make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers and call for support for a further protest demonstration in Redcar on Thursday 30th April. See notes to editors for text of Labour Party press release on 28th April.
The protest is over the discrimination against the employment of local workers on the construction of a new purpose-built energy-from-waste facility at Wilton, Redcar being built by SITA SEMBCORP UK for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority.
The protest being held on Thursday 30th April will be outside the gates of the Wilton Centre, Redcar, Cleveland TS10 4RF from 6am. See notes to editors 2 for GMB press release on the exclusion and undercutting on that site plus details of where the site is.
Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer for construction, said "making it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers – and enforcing this law with a special 100-strong Home Office unit with investigatory powers is welcome.
It would help at the energy from waste construction site at Redcar where workers being undercut by £5 an hour. These excluded workers plan a further demonstration on Thursday 30th April.
By contrast the Tories are doing absolutely nothing about this exploitation".
Copy of Labour Party press release dated 28th April 2015.
ED MILIBAND CHALLENGES DAVID CAMERON TO MATCH LABOUR’S CLEAR, CREDIBLE AND CONCRETE 100 DAYS ACTION PLAN ON IMMIGRATION
Ed Miliband today challenges the Tories to match the ten clear, credible and concrete steps a new Labour government would take on immigration in its first 100 days.
He will warn that the Tories’ record of failure on immigration – which has seen numbers rise to 300,000 after promising to cut them to less than 100,000 - has damaged public confidence in politics.
And he will he show how Labour’s first 100 days action plan on immigration will strengthen our borders, begin to restore contribution, champion integration, and drive out the exploitation that drives down local wages.
In remarks at a People’s Question Time in the Vale of Glamorgan, Mr Miliband will declare he is determined to restore trust on the issue of immigration by addressing people’s justified concerns with Labour’s first 100 days action plan.
He will underline the principles behind Labour’s changed approach on immigration, saying he will publish an Immigration Bill in the next government’s first Queen’s speech to rebuild public trust, strengthen borders, restore contribution, champion integration and end the exploitation that undercuts wages.
And he will set out the 10 clear, credible and concrete steps Labour will take in its first 100 days to begin taking action on:
· Recruiting an additional 1,000 borders staff, paid for by a small charge on non-visa visitors to the UK.
· Stopping those who have committed serious crimes coming to Britain and deport those who commit them after they arrive.
· Introducing full exit checks, so that we can count people in and out of the country.
· Ending the indefinite detention of people in the asylum and immigration system and uphold our traditions and obligations on refugees.
· Keeping the cap on workers from outside the EU and tightening the rules by requiring large firms hiring workers from outside to offer apprenticeships here.
· Making it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers – and enforcing this law with a special 100-strong Home Office unit with investigatory powers.
· Banning recruitment agencies from hiring only from overseas.
· Closing the loophole whereby employers are able to use agency staff as a way to undercut the wages of permanent staff.
· Preventing people who come here from claiming benefits for at least two years or sending child benefit to families living abroad.
· Requiring people working in public services in public facing roles to speak English.
He will say the Tories have already refused to sign up to the majority of these measures, showing that David Cameron’s attempt to re-issue his broken promise at the last election shows he is taking the public for fools.
Mr Miliband will say he offers a clear, credible and concrete plan on immigration – not false promises:
“Immigration can benefit Britain and, as the son of two refugees myself, I will never do anything to denigrate or demean the contribution people who have come to this country have made.
“The next Labour government will build a future that works for working people, a recovery that reaches every part of our country, and we will deal with people’s concerns because we have listened, we have learned and we have changed.
“David Cameron once promised to cut net immigration to tens of thousands – and told us to kick him out of office if he didn’t deliver. But net migration rose to 298,000 last year, almost exactly three times higher than he promised.
“Nothing damages people’s faith in politics more than broken promises like that - or those he is still making today.
“I will only make promises I can keep. I won’t offer false targets or seek to exploit concerns with the politics of fear. Instead, I am offering clear, credible and concrete ways of making a real difference.”
He will set out Labour’s plan for action in the first 100 days after taking office:
“If I am Prime Minister we will begin work immediately to fix our immigration system with a plan founded on fair rules, where wages can’t be undercut and benefits must be earned; a plan where our borders and our communities are strengthened.
“If I am Prime Minister we will act in our first 100 days with an Immigration Bill in our first Queen’s Speech to raise the money needed for another 1,000 borders staff, stop people who have committed serious crimes coming to Britain, and insist large firms bringing in workers from outside the EU to offer apprenticeships here.
“If I am Prime Minister, we will drive out the exploitation that drives up low skill migration and drives down local wages. But I will never turn my back on our traditions of tolerance and being outward-looking to the world, nor on the students and top talent who can help us build future success.”
And he will challenge David Cameron to match Labour’s 100 day plan for action on immigration and show he is serious about tackling people’s concerns.
“Immigration is too important an issue for our country to be abandoned by the Prime Minister so it can be exploited by Nigel Farage.
“We are setting out sensible and practical changes to this system. Today, I challenge the Conservative Party to match our offer, show you are serious on immigration without making false promises or playing the politics of fear.”
GMB press release dated 16th April
GMB REDCAR PROTEST ON SATURDAY 18TH APRIL OVER EXCLUSION OF LOCAL WORKERS FROM TEESSIDE WASTE TO ENERGY CONSTRUCTION SITE
SITA has discriminated against local workers giving them no chance to get up to three quarters of the 400 jobs on the site at the construction phase of the project says GMB
GMB members will be attending a public demonstration to be held at Redcar on Saturday 18th April from 10.00a.m organized by the Teesside Construction Committee.
The protest is over the discrimination against the employment of local workers on the construction of a new purpose-built energy-from-waste facility at Wilton, Redcar for SITA for Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority.
The site is at the Wilton Centre, Redcar, Cleveland TS10. 4RF, There have been previous demonstrations at the site on this organized by the Teesside Construction Committee.
The details of the demonstration are as follows: Assemble at 10am Saturday 18th April from the Majuba car park Majuba Road Redcar Teesside TS10 5BJ.
The demonstration will make its way along the promenade alongside the coast then back along the High Street to congregate next to the Clocktower for a mass meeting.
SITA SEMBCORP UK, a consortium led by SITA UK, was selected as preferred bidder for a resource recovery contract worth £1.18 billion over 30 years with the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority. The other consortium members are Sembcorp Utilities UK and I-Environment, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Itochu Corporation.
The contract is to manage over 430,000 tonnes of residual household waste each year from Merseyside and Halton. Total capital investment for the facilities will be around £250 million. Both key facilities are expected to be operational by 2016. In total, 75 permanent new jobs will be created by the contract with hundreds more temporary jobs during the construction of the two new facilities. The new energy-from-waste facility will generate electricity for the equivalent of 63,000 homes.
Michael Blench, GMB Regional officer said “The demonstration is over the construction of the Wilton 11 Project on Wilton International site where local worker have been unable to secure work on the projects.
SITA is not playing fair by the Teesside workforce. SITA has discriminated against them by giving them no chance to get up to three quarters of the 400 jobs on the site at the construction phase of the job.
The project is being built predominately using European labour that are being used as cheap labour and are undermining the current national agreement for the engineering and construction industry. They are being paid £4 per hour below the agreed rates for engineering construction workers.
This protest is not against European labour working in this country but unscrupulous employers who insist on undercutting existing terms and conditions.
Normally these projects bring great benefit to the surrounding communities while under construction because of the local spending back in to community and the jobs it would normally create.
There are concerns over more fundamental problems about Europe that we have to face up to. Whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.
The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation in check.
That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employer have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision. Judgements in the European Courts like Viking and Laval were the green light to massive assaults on organised labour across Europe, but especially in the UK.
From Lindsey Oil refinery to food production we have seen workers recruited in certain member states by agencies and exploited. They were shipped in “literally” in order to undermine the terms and conditions of existing workers on those contracts. Both sets of workers have been let down by UK Government, the EU Commission and the European Court.
On exploitation – don’t blame the exploited; damn those who exploit. This has been repeated up and down the country over recent years.
Look past the simplistic tag and face the challenge of exploitation. Let’s reach out to those migrant workers not attack them, but organise and protect them.
Too many workers go to work fearful about exercising their basic rights. A new Labour Government working with the EU has to create a workplace without fear and equip the trade unions to enforce it. The challenge for Labour in government is to deal with exploitation and harassment of workers which it has ignored for too long. See notes to editors for Labour election manifesto pledges ".
Labour 2015 election manifesto pledges
The most exploitative working practices often take place in sectors that employ a high proportion of migrant workers. In some cases migrant workers are being paid below the minimum wage and being asked to have money deducted from their salaries for travel and accommodation – making them cheaper to employ than other workers. We need fair rules at work in order to reduce demand for low skilled migration.
Labour will stop agencies from being able to recruit exclusively from abroad and make it a criminal offence to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers. We will work in Europe to ensure the rules on the posting of workers from abroad that prevent jobs and conditions being undermined at home are effective.
The main industry body for the recruitment industry has warned that rogue ‘intermediary’ organisations have increased over the past three years and are undercutting the rest of the sector. Labour will make it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages, by closing the loopholes in the Agency Workers Regulations that mean workers who are paid between assignments are excluded from the protections of the regulations. And we will crack down on rogue recruitment agencies exploiting their workers to undermine wages and conditions, including the option of a licensing system that ensures agencies are complying with basic standards or stopped from operating, and extend the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority where there is evidence of abuse.