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Unite urges Ethical Trading Initiative to stop draggin...

Unite urges Ethical Trading Initiative to stop dragging its feet over Crossrail

13 June 2013

Unite, Britain's biggest union, has been calling for over a month for the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) to investigate the abuse of the ethical alliance's 'Base Code' by Crossrail and some of the biggest consortia on the project.

All worker representatives on the ETI board and the TUC have pulled out of the AGM today (13 June), which will effectively now go ahead only with corporate members. The union will be demonstrating outside the ETI's AGM at 12.30 to urge the organisation to act and investigate Crossrail. The AGM takes place at Central Hall, Storey's Gate, Westminster, SW1H 9NH.

The union has warned the ETI that failure to properly investigate Unite's six specific complaints about breaches of the 'Base Code' by Crossrail will make the ETI yet again appear to be protecting and providing cover for Crossrail's interests rather than helping to protect workers (see note to editors).

Despite formal requests from Unite and the TUC - to investigate Crossrail's misuse of the ETI's 'Base Code' - the ETI has yet to investigate the specific complaints.

The ETI is an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. It has a 'Base Code' which members sign up to. The code is founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice. 

Crossrail claims to adhere to the ETI's base code but it is not a signatory to the code. Furthermore, Unite has significant evidence that Crossrail does not even adhere to the code in the first place. Despite this abuse of the code the ETI is failing to act to demand that Crossrail takes down any public reference to the ETI.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Crossrail is abusing the name of the Ethical Trading Initiative by claiming to adhere to the alliance's principles of workers' rights. Crossrail's contractor BFK has in fact been victimising trade unionists for carrying out their duties, including raising concerns about health and safety at the site.

"The ETI’s failure to investigate the specific breaches of the ETI's code, identified by Unite over a month ago, will leave the ETI exposed to claims that it is providing cover to Crossrail's continued attack on workers rights. The worker representatives on the board are sending a clear message to the ETI that it must act urgently."

ENDS

Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Notes to editors :

Details on the ETI's base code

Crossrail makes great play out of its claims to adhere to the ETI base code.  Unite submits that it is clearly failing to do so on the following grounds:

  • In breach of Clause 2.2 of the code Crossrail has allowed suppliers to adopt a hostile attitude towards the activities of trade unions
  • In breach of Clause 2.3 workers representatives have been discriminated against and have been hampered in attempts to carry out their representative functions in the workplace
  • By persecuting and terminating the contracts of workers who raise legitimate health and safety concerns Crossrail has breached Clause 3.1 of the code obliging contractors to provide a safe working environment
  • It is a breach of clause 7.1 of the code to discriminate in hiring or termination based on union membership
  • Crossrail contractors used labour only subcontracting in order to be able to terminate the employment of active trade unionists in breach of clause 8.1
  • Terminating the employment of active trade unionist and workers who insist on the application of health and safety regulations is clearly intimidation or workers in breach of 9.1

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.