Independent Inquiry Needed Into Crossrail Workplace Abuses

Construction union UCATT is calling for an urgent independent inquiry into safety and workplace abuses on the Crossrail tunnelling contract being undertaken by contractor ATC (Alstom, TSO and Costain).


UCATT members working on the Crossrail tunnelling contract say ATC management are employing intimidatory working practises. Workers are being forced to work until they are physically exhausted and are also being required to undertake work that is beyond them.


On top of these concerns the project is afflicted by appalling welfare facilities which fall far below accepted guidelines. Workers are forced to walk up to 2 miles underground in order to go to the toilet and canteen facilities are also entirely inadequate.


UCATT has written to Sadiq Khan Mayor of London, Crossrail and the Health and Safety Executive urging them to undertake an independent inquiry into the abuses occurring on the project.


Jerry Swain, UCATT London and the South East Regional Secretary, said: “Not only is this project a disgrace in its treatment of its workforce but there are now serious safety concerns. These issues should cause great alarm amongst ATC and Crossrail management. We need an urgent independent inquiry in order to investigate and end these abuses. The workforce and the country require reassurance that this flagship, state-funded construction project will follow the gold standard for workers’ treatment and workplace conditions. Tunnelling is a dangerous environment.”


Last Thursday (29th September) UCATT held a protest outside the entrance to the tunnelling project over the poor welfare facilities and the failure of the contract’s fingerprint recognition system, which has resulted in many of the workforce not being paid correctly for the work they have undertaken.


UCATT later received reports from workers who had spoken to demonstrators claiming that when they entered the site they were stopped and questioned by site management.


Mr Swain, added: “It’s shameful that management at international construction companies, working on a major state-funded project, are going to extraordinary lengths to keep unions off site. It is like they have their own blacklist. There can be nothing more insulting than working a full shift, in difficult conditions in a tunnel, and then not getting paid. This needs to be rectified.”


There are currently over 1,000 workers employed by ATC on the tunnelling section of the Crossrail contract.


Problems on the site have been made far worse because the contractors refuse to give UCATT normal access to the workforce.


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