Members of Unite and the GMB are again protesting in Copenhagen, Denmark tomorrow (Tuesday 13 June) after the financier of major energy from waste plants in the UK, tried to ‘wash its hands’ of the undercutting of pay and conditions on a number of projects.
Pay rates of construction workers are being undercut through social dumping on plants in Rotherham, Yorkshire and Sandwich in Kent. Pay rates being offered via sub-contractors are reportedly up to 61 per cent below the agreed rates of the relevant collective agreements.
Both projects are being financed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners the investment arm of Pension Danmark. Despite Pension Danmark having extensive corporate social responsibility policies, outlawing exploitation on projects at home and abroad, Jens-Christian Stouguard, the senior vice-president of the organisation, has refused to meet the unions. He claims it is a matter for the sub-contractors.
The unions will be protesting outside the offices of Pension Danmark from 08:00 and leafleting throughout the Danish capital to highlight the exploitation which is occurring in the Danish nation’s name.
WHEN: Tuesday 13 June. 08:00 (CET)
WHERE: Pension Danmark, Langelinie Alle 43, 2100 Copenhagen 0, Denmark
The two principal sub-contractors of concern are both Danish companies, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund and Burmesiter & Wain Scandinavian Contractor. Since the unions exposed their unscrupulous practices earlier this year neither company has taken any action to end the exploitation of those workers employed through their supply chain, by reversing their aggressive undercutting policies.
Despite the senior representatives of Pension Danmark refusing to meet the UK unions, importantly, the Danish trade unionists who sit on the board have willing agreed to a meeting and it is anticipated they will bring additional pressure to bear to help end the exploitation.
The aggressive social dumping and exploitation being undertaken by these Danish companies is entirely illegal in Denmark as posted workers are protected by the appropriate collective agreements. In the UK companies are only legally required to comply with minimum wage legislation.
Unite national officer for construction, Bernard McAulay, said: “The senior representatives at Pension Danmark are doing a good impression of Pontius Pilate by trying to wash their hands of the exploitation which is occurring on their projects.
“Highly skilled workers feel betrayed by the failure of Pension Danmark to observe its corporate social responsibility policies.
“Since the unions exposed this appalling exploitation, there have been warm words from one contractor but no action, while rates continue to be undercut and the resentment of workers increases.
“We call upon the Pension Danmark board of directors to meet with the UK trade unions instead of continuing to look for excuses and move swiftly to end the abuses that are occurring on their projects. They have put in the investment and therefore are ultimately responsible for what occurs on their projects.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for construction said: “We're back in Copenhagen to show both Pension Danmark and the Danish government the problem of undercutting hasn't gone away - and neither will we.
"They need to take action against the companies involved in this exploitative, nasty business. Our members deserve a fair wage - and shouldn't miss out on jobs just because they demand one. And foreign workers deserve not to be exploited.
"Pension Danmark and the Danish government should know we will be back, as many times as necessary, to see this through."
Notes to editors:
Babcock & Wilcox Vølund are undertaking the work at Rotherham and Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S are responsible for the project in Sandwich Kent.
Babcok & Wilcox Vølund is sub-contracting work to Croatian company Duro Dakovic. The company has ignored the appropriate collective agreement and it is understood the company pays Croatian workers the minimum wage of £7.20 an hour. The appropriate collective agreement for engineering construction workers (NAECI) is £16.97 an hour with a bonus of £2.37 an hour.
Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor refuse to allow trade unions on their site. They also refuse to follow the NAECI agreement and don’t pay the bonus, industry sick pay, enhanced holiday pay, travel and accommodation allowances, benefit entitlements for death and disablement, unfair dismissal procedures after 4 weeks and many other benefits.
The basic rate of the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) is £16.97 an hour and workers also receive an hourly bonus of £2.37 an hour
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Or Jon Parker Dean on 0207 391 6756 or 07813542050.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.