Crunch talks are due to be held tomorrow (Wednesday 30 September) in Liverpool in a bid to ensure an independent audit of wage rates is carried out at the £200 million energy-from-waste plant being built at the Wilton complex on Teesside.
The talks will involve Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA), which awarded a 30-year £1.2 billion contract to Sita/Sembcorp to turn waste into energy.
Before the talks, members from the unions, Unite, the GMB and Ucatt will be protesting outside the MRWA headquarters at No: 1 Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1BP at 13.15 tomorrow Wednesday (30 September 2015).
The focus of the six-month dispute is that the Wilton project is being built outside of the terms of all the national agreements (CIJC and NAECI) for the construction industry which have been in place for more than 30 years.
Unite regional officer Steve Cason said: “The unions are demanding that a forensic wage audit be carried out at the site, which the unions have agreed to pay for, with the goal that the workers at Wilton receive the nationally agreed rates of pay.
“We are going into the talks with executives from MRWA and Sita/Sembcorp in a constructive frame of mind. However, should our reasonable demands not be met we will report back to the Teesside construction committee (TCC) which will then decide on the next steps in our campaign for pay justice.”
Unite has members working at the plant and is critical about the lack of access to workers at the project. This follows on-going concerns about undercutting of wage rates, as well as health and safety issues.
Unite is also worried at the lack of job opportunities for people from the local community. The union would like to see the companies taking the lead on apprenticeships and ensuring opportunities are available for young people.
There also appears to be a high number of agency labour onsite operating through umbrella companies who are employed with no employment rights.
Steve Cason added: “We also want to avoid the situation where the infrastructure to burn waste is completed and owned by Sita and, as competition is wiped out, prices to remove and burn waste from local authorities could rise, placing an unfair burden on the council taxpayer.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- 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.