MSP criticises Laing O’Rourke management at Dumfries hospital site

UCATT protesters outside the £212m Dumfries hospital project earlier this month
UCATT protesters outside the £212m Dumfries hospital project earlier this month

Scottish Labour MSP Colin Smyth has tabled a Parliamentary motion criticising Laing O’Rourke’s decision not to allow union officials access to the £212 million Dumfries hospital project site.

The contractor is building the new hospital for NHS Scotland and completion is scheduled for December 2017.

Construction union UCATT has claimed management have refused officials proper access to the site, prompting the organisation to stage a protest outside the site earlier this month. However, a spokesperson for Laing O’Rourke said the union had not formally requested access.

Now, Mr Smyth has brought forward the motion which claims the company has previously prevented unions from accessing from other publicly-funded infrastructure projects.

In addition, Mr Smyth states Laing O’Rourke was a member of the construction blacklisting organisation, the Consulting Association, and that the company’s actions undermines the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Convention, “workers’ rights and increases exploitation”.

Steve Dillon, regional secretary of UCATT Scotland, said: “Laing O’Rourke must provide proper access to their sites. This dispute is not going to go away. The Scottish Parliament and MSPS are not going to stand by and allow one company to ram raid its Fair Work Convention which is designed to prevent exploitation and abuse in the workplace.

“We welcome Mr Smyth’s motion on this really important issue and urge all MSPs to sign it, in order to demonstrate that they on the side of Scottish workers and support the right of trade unions to organise and represent workers.”

The full motion tabled by Colin Smyth MSP, supported by Iain Gray, Monica Lennon, Neil Findlay, Elaine Smith, John Finnie, Claudia Beamish, is as follows:

That the Parliament notes the recent demonstration by the construction workers’ union, UCATT, at the site of the new £212 million Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in response to the reports that the principal contractor, Laing O’Rourke, has refused the union access; believes that this company has previously prevented union access from other publicly-funded infrastructure projects; understands that it was a member of the Consulting Association, which was reportedly involved in the blacklisting of construction workers; believes that the Scottish Government expects companies that are awarded public contracts to maintain high standards of business and professional conduct; considers that this type of activity by a contractor toward trade unions undermines the remedial steps called for in the government’s procurement note on blacklisting, does not support the aspirations of the Fair Work Convention to promote a fair and balanced economy and undermines workers’ rights and increases exploitation, and supports the freedom of trade unions to organise and represent workers across the economy.

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