‘Lessons must be learned’ after Crossrail Costain/Skanska decision, says Unite

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The UK’s construction union, Unite has demanded workers do not lose out financially after it was revealed that the Costain/Skanska JV contract to build the new Bond Street station has been terminated

Unite is demanding that workers must not lose out financially after it was announced that Crossrail and the Costain/Skanska joint venture have terminated the contract to build the new Bond Street station.

Workers and contractors were informed that work would cease on 24 June.

Unite national officer for construction, Jerry Swain, said: “Workers and contractors are the innocent victims of the long-term problems and delays caused by the archaic manner in which Costain/Skanska has operated on this project.

“In order to avoid workers losing out financially Crossrail must commit to ensuring that workers will be swiftly re-engaged as soon as a new contractor is appointed to finally complete this long-delayed project. Workers should receive financial support in the meantime.

“The Covid-19 pandemic means that construction work is far harder to come by at the moment and it would be totally unfair if these workers did not receive financial support due to this shock decision which has nothing to do with their work.”

Controversial industrial relations

According to Unite, the way in which the Costain/Skanska venture has operated industrial relations on both Crossrail and on HS2 has been highly controversial.

The union said the JV had previously refused Unite officials access to the site at Bond Street, even when workers were fearful for their lives due to concerns about air quality.

‘Wake-up call’ to change management style

Swain added: “The decision to part company with Costain/Skanska at Bond Street must serve as a wake-up call to the company and they must change their management style and the way they treat their workforce.

“In order to avoid repeating the problems at Bond Street, the joint venture needs to embrace all the stakeholders involved on HS2, including trade unions.

“In a world where the Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge changes in the way construction workers operate, it is more important than ever that workers have normal access to union officials in a socially distanced manner.

“Unite will be making representations to Costain/Skanska to assist them in ensuring that the problems which have ultimately resulted in them losing the Bond Street contract do not repeat themselves on their planned operations on HS2.”

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