Scottish Government must prevent ‘social dumping’ on E...

Scottish government must prevent ‘social dumping’ on East Lothian waste project

06 August 2015

Unite has called on the Scottish government to ensure that ‘social dumping’ is avoided in the construction of the controversial £177 million Oxwellmains waste energy plant in Dunbar, East Lothian.

The union has raised fears over the bypassing of the National Agreement for the Engineering & Construction Industry after learning that plant owners Viridor sub-contracted mechanical and engineering operations to Danish firm Babcock & Wilcox Volund - excluding local workers from accessing between 250-300 skilled opportunities.

Unite has also learned that there is no commitment to a modern apprenticeship programme from the Danish firm across the two year mechanical and engineering contract, with the union targeting a 10 per cent apprenticeship target in all trade disciplines across construction projects.

Unite has now contacted the Cabinet Secretary for Environment & Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead seeking urgent talks.

Unite national officer Bernard McAulay said, “We want the Scottish government to bring all parties to the table and ensure Viridor and its sub-contractors sign-up to our national trade agreement or a specific project agreement.

“We know from our sister trade unions in Denmark that Babcock & Wilcox Volund has exploited migrant labour from Eastern Europe to undercut indigenous labour and their terms and conditions - the practice of social dumping - on a similar project in Ireland.

“Furthermore, the exclusion of local firms and labour from this lucrative mechanical and engineering contract runs roughshod over our long-standing collective agreements and undercuts decent terms and conditions of employment for everyone.”

Unite regional officer Scott Foley added, “This isn’t in the interests of local economic growth and sustainability, nor do we believe that the Scottish Government seriously supports the view that migrant labour should be exploited on low-pay to the detriment of Scottish workers.

“The Scottish government has a window of opportunity to act now and show its commitment to protecting workers’ rights and promoting an economic agenda that benefits everyone and not just the business interest.”


For further information please contact Unite national officer Bernard McAulay on 07958 514837 or Unite regional officer Scott Foley on 07810 157915 

  • 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.