Massive victory for umbrella company campaign in Wales
UCATT has welcomed the news that the Welsh Government is acting to outlaw the use of umbrella companies on its construction projects. The move follows UCATT’s protest at the A465 Heads of the Valleys road widening project, which is being built by Carillion and where workers were required to work via umbrella companies. Welsh Assembly Members have also been bringing pressure on the Welsh Government to act. The Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart AM, confirmed that no worker on the A465 will be employed via an umbrella company. They will instead be employed on a standard CIJC PAYE basis either by Carillion or its own employment agency Skyblue. In addition, Ms Hart has instructed her officials to change the wording of future Welsh Government construction contracts to ensure that umbrella companies cannot be used in the same way again.
“The use of umbrella companies is unfair and exploitative. The decision of the Welsh Government to crackdown on their use both on the A465 and on all of their contracts is excellent news,” said UCATT Regional Secretary for Wales and the South West Nick Blundell. “This is a significant victory in UCATT’s campaign against umbrella companies. It is now essential that all other public sector contracts introduce similar measures and umbrella companies are entirely outlawed.”
Welsh government consults on employment practices on publicly-funded construction projects
UCATT has highlighted the problem of false self-employment, as well as the use of pay roll and umbrella companies in its response to a recent Value Wales consultation on employment practices in publicly-funded construction projects. Value Wales is the procurement arm of the Welsh government and sets out recommended guidance on procurement that every public sector organisation, such as the health service bodies and local authorities, are expected to follow.
UCATT Regional Secretary for Wales and the South West Nick Blundell says the union expects the outcome of the consultation to be new guidelines on public procurement in the form of a policy advice note.
“UCATT will be putting pressure on health service bodies and local authorities to follow the new guidance when it is published,” he said.
UCATT calls for action on asbestos
Regional Organiser Tim Morris is calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to change its guidance on preventing exposure to asbestos to both employers and employees. UCATT has already raised the issue of false certification of asbestos with the HSE (http://www.ucatt.org.uk/wales-and-south-west-regional-update-october-2014) and says that cuts to the safety watchdog mean that enforcement is weak.
“Thousands of building workers are being exposed to asbestos at work and operatives following the HSE advice are often disciplined,” says Tim. “I will be meeting with HSE officials to ask that they review the advice they give to workers and employers on the HSE website.”
He added: “We know that our members are sometimes reluctant to raise problems, even with us. I would say to all our members: if you have any concerns about asbestos, please get in touch with the Regional Office. Asbestos kills and you should have no hesitation about contacting us if you are worried you might be exposed to the deadly dust at work.”
UCATT successfully recruiting and organising at Hinkley Point
Around three quarters of the workforce building the new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have signed up to UCATT and UCATT Convenor Malcolm Davies is now backed up with a team of 12 both experienced and new shop stewards and safety reps.
“Myself and Senior Shop Steward Jonathan Davies have vast experience of working on large infrastructure projects including Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 5, the London Olympics and Crossrail,” says Malcolm. “We are also attracting excellent new reps who are willing to learn new skills quickly. UCATT has made giant strides in a short time at Hinkley and as this is the first of the nuclear new builds of this generation, we can be proud of the efforts of our new reps.”
“The UCATT team at Hinkley Point C is aiming to continue to build constructive relationships with all the employers on site and, going forward, with the Construction Nuclear New Build programme,” he added. Malcolm can be contacted at Malcolm.firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Left to Right: UCATT Hinkley Point C Shop Stewards and Safety Reps: Kier/BAM Shop Steward and Safety Rep Mark Hutchison, Balfour Beatty Shop Steward and Safety Rep Martin Winters, Somerset Larder chef and safety rep Phil Wakeman, Bylor Shop Steward and Safety Rep Paul Murray, Plantforce Shop Steward and Safety Rep James Mouzoure, Bylor Safety Rep Tomasz Pawlicki and Kier/BAM Senior Shop Steward and Safety Rep Jonathan Davies.
EDF Convenor and Safety Rep Malcolm Davies and Kier/BAM Safety Rep Robert Robinson are pictured in the December Regional Update with Mark Hutchinson: https://www.ucatt.org.uk/wales-and-south-west-region-update-december-2014.
Neil Andrews is first Welsh Chair of UCATT’s Executive Council
UCATT Wales and South West Executive Council Member Neil Andrews has been elected as the first Welsh Chair of UCATT’s Executive Council. He succeeds Neil Vernon, who represents the Midlands Region on the Council.
Mr Andrews, a joiner working at Tai Calon Community Housing in Blaenau Gwent, South Wales, has been a member of the Executive Council since 2001.
“It is an honour to be the first Welsh person to be Chair of UCATT,” he said. “My priority will be to ensure that UCATT continues to modernise and that we continue to adapt our union to meet the needs of construction workers in the 21st century. I look forward to working with the General Secretary and the new National Secretary, when they are appointed, in building our union.”
First Welsh Chair of UCATT's Executive Council Neil Andrews.
UCATT takes part in TUC Decent Jobs Week
UCATT Regional Secretary for Wales and the South West Nick Blundell joined other trade unionists on the TUC Decent Jobs Week stall in Swansea’s Oxford Street in December. The week aimed to raise awareness about Britain’s jobs crisis. Millions of people in the UK are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs. There are more than 1.4 million zero-hours contracts in use, offering no steady work. Others, such as agency and casual workers, lose out on important rights and benefits. And while the recovery is creating new jobs, many are of poor quality. As a result, more and more people are struggling to pay their rent, mortgage and heat their homes, with women and young workers particularly affected.
UCATT wins recognition at Cornwall Housing
Social housing provider Cornwall Housing has signed a full recognition and facilities agreement with UCATT. The union has now signed up a new shop steward at one of the organisation’s two depots and now has UCATT reps at both sites.
It pays to be in UCATT
Regional Organier Darren Crowther recently represented a young apprentice who was threatened with the sack after being disciplined when his employer failed to make the reasonable adjustments required under the Equality Act 2010 to enable him to be able to carry out his job.
“The young lad has dyslexia,” said Darren. “UCATT represented him at a disciplinary hearing and again though the ACAS “early conciliation” process. His employer failed to stick to the ACAS agreement and did not make reasonable adjustments. At this point, he had had enough and we negotiated a settlement agreement allowing him to leave with a compensation pay out.”