UCATT ‘worried and perplexed’ as major projects reject union convenors

Queensferry Crossing August 2016Construction union UCATT has raised concerns over a decision by two major Scottish infrastructure projects not to reappoint union convenors.

The two consortia building the new Queensferry Crossing and the Aberdeen West Peripheral Route (AWPR) schemes have rejected the idea of replacing union convenors, in a move which the union said “downgrades their commitment to healthy industrial relations and workplace safety”.

Both projects had UCATT convenors trained in health and safety but when these convenors were appointed union officials and relocated off site, management on both projects rejected the idea of replacement convenors, the union said.

In April, a 60-year-old worker was killed on the Queensferry Crossing construction site when he was hit by a moving boom on a crane, while another man was injured. Elsewhere on the AWPR site, a huge steel structure collapsed and a mechanical road working machine overturned in September. However, no one was injured.

UCATT Scotland regional secretary, Steve Dillon, said the decision not to appoint new convenors on both schemes is “worrying and perplexing”.

“These are both huge, high profile, public-funded projects where we and the general public would expect to find the highest, most stringent levels of health and safety provision – and, of course, continual scrutiny. Our convenors are trained in health and safety. One of their roles is to pre-empt problems and be another set of trained eyes on such vast projects.

“The decision by these two consortia is both worrying and perplexing. What lies behind these decisions and why are safety concerns being swept aside when everyone knows there have been real safety issues on these sites? UCATT, the Scottish Government and the Scottish public need to know.”

The AWPR consortium consists of Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Morrison Construction, while Hochtief, American Bridge and Morrison are involved in the Queensferry Crossing project.

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