UNITE the Union, has stepped up its campaign against union busting practices of Costain SKANKSA Joint Venture (CSJV) with a series of demonstrations. On 4 October UNITE held the largest protest and demonstration outside of HS2 Euston site being operated by the CSJV and on 7 October Unite held a demonstration at HS2 Headquarters in Birmingham.
UNITE’s dispute with CSJV is the result of the ongoing union busting being undertaken by CSJV. Costain and Skanska has refused Unite normal access to its workforce, despite the client HS2 agreeing a framework agreement for the entire project, that sets out minimum standards including allowing union’s access to the workforce.
Unite is seeking to have access, by prior arrangement, to the workforce in the site canteen during the workers’ breaks, a practice which is normal on construction sites throughout the UK.
According to Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of UNITE, “We have been trying to resolve the problem of union busting through negotiations since the end of April, but the CSJV has refused to allow normal access and HS2 has declined to force their hand.”
Since the campaign for access began Unite has uncovered a series of problems on the site which are in direct breach of the framework agreement including underpaid overtime, a lack of holiday entitlement, the use of umbrella companies and a failure to ensure workers were covered by an accident and death benefit scheme.
Costain and Skanska have a practice of busting unions in the United Kingdom and they have convicted construction blacklisters.
Unite national officer Jerry Swain stated, “Costain and Skanska are guilty of union busting and HS2 has acted as their conduit. Costain and Skanska were guilty of blacklisting on an industrial scale but have said they have changed their ways, we know a leopard doesn’t change its spots by denying Unite access to its site the question is, what are they hiding?”.