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Public meeting called to discuss wage audit at Teessid...

Public meeting called to discuss wage audit at Teesside energy-from-waste site

30 October 2015

WHERE: Acklam Green Centre, Stainsby Road, Middlesbrough TS5 4JS
WHEN: Monday 2 November, 19.00

A public meeting to discuss the next steps in the six-month dispute 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 will be held on Monday (2 November).

The focus of the dispute is that the Wilton project is being built outside of the terms of all the national agreements for the construction industry which have been in place for more than 30 years.

The meeting has been called by Teesside Construction Committee (TCC) - representing the unions, Unite and the GMB - following unsuccessful talks in Liverpool this week involving the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA), which awarded a 30-year £1.2 billion contract to turn waste into energy to the site’s developers Sita Sembcorp.

Unite strongly refuted a claim by Sita Sembcorp that a forensic audit could not be carried out as ‘that would include handing over employees’ bank details’.

Unite regional officer Steve Cason said: “Sita Sembcorp would not be handing over anyone's bank details - this is simply a smokescreen by the company to cover up its activities.

“Such audits are carried out on all jobs on sites covered by the national agreement (NAECI) without any problem. A professional auditing company, which the unions would pay for, would look into these matters and report on its findings.
 
“What must be compared is the range of the rates of pay on a site, covered by the national agreements, to those rates of pay on an unrecognised site, such as Wilton.

“We believe that a professional forensic audit would reveal the rates were being undercut – and torpedo the company’s claim that there is no systematic under-payment of foreign workers at Wilton.
 
“The public meeting has been called for by the TCC to inform everyone of the outcome of the Liverpool talks – and chart the next steps in the campaign for nationally agreed rates of pay.”

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.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Steve Cason on 07815 704387 or Ashraf Choudhury in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07980 224761. 

  • 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.