Unite secures breakthrough access to Europe's biggest construction site, HS2
- Tuesday 14 September 2021
Unite, the UK’s construction union, has secured a significant agreement to ensure that workers on a key part of the HS2 development can freely meet with union officials.
The access agreement has been signed between the union and the joint venture company Align which comprises, Bouygues, Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine and Volker Fitzpatrick.
The Align joint venture is responsible for the tunnelling and track laying on the section of HS2 from the north of London and through the Chiltern hills.
The access agreement ensures that Unite construction officials will be able to visit the welfare facilities of Align sites on HS2 and speak to workers during their breaks. This will allow union officers to explain the benefits of union membership and swiftly deal with any problems or concerns workers may have.
The decision of Align to allow Unite access to the workforce on their project is in stark contrast to the attitude of the Skanska/Costain/Strabag joint venture which is responsible for the tunnelling and track work from Euston to the outskirts of London.
The Skanska/Costain/Strabag joint venture company has refused to allow Unite access to its workforce, which Unite has described as an ‘attempt at union busting’ and resulted in a large demonstration by construction workers in August.
The access agreement is the second to be formally signed on the HS2 project, following confirmation in June that Unite will have access to the workforce on the new Euston station development which is being built by Mace/Dragados.
Further access agreements to various other sections of the HS2 development are currently under negotiation.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “This is an important agreement and will ensure that thousands of workers on this section of the HS2 development will be able to freely meet and speak to Unite officials.
“It is pleasing to see that Align, unlike some other HS2 contractors, has demonstrated an enlightened approach to trade union access and Unite looks forward to working constructively with the joint-venture throughout the life of this project.
“Unite is entirely committed to ensuring that all sections of the current HS2 development reach similar agreements. We will not allow employers to refuse us access as part of a cynical policy of denying workers their rights and undermining national agreements.
“Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.