HS2 contractor rejects Unite’s ‘turkey truce’ peace offering


Construction union, Unite, has revealed it will hold further demonstrations at the HS2 Costain/Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) site at Euston

According to Unite, the new demonstrations at the HS2 site are a result of CSJV management rejecting its offer of a ‘Turkey Truce’.

In November, Unite wrote to the senior management of CSJV and made the offer of ceasing all demonstrations at the site in December as a gesture of goodwill in return for all the workers on the site receiving a voucher of £25 in order to buy a turkey.

It was hoped that the voucher would serve as a goodwill gesture after an emergency motion was passed by Unite in September. The emergency motion was thanks to CSJV’s refusal to allow officials to speak to workers during their breaks at their HS2 site in Euston.

Unite says the greatest concern of workers is the failure of the CSJV to apply the appropriate national agreements. This has resulted in some workers losing up to £100 a week in overtime payments.

However, CSJV failed even to acknowledge Unite’s peace offering.

CSJV denies Unite officials access

The demonstrations at the site are as a result of Costain and Skanska denying Unite access to their members and the wider workforce during their breaks in the workplace canteen.

In doing so CSJV has exposed weak spots in the agreement between unions and the HS2 management.

Despite the lack of access Unite has continued to recruit heavily on the site. Its activities have uncovered a host of workplace issues including the underpayment of overtime and holidays, the use of umbrella companies which is prohibited and the failure to pay for workers to have the correct accident and death benefit cover.

Failed ‘Turkey Truce’

Unite national officer for construction, Jerry Swain, commented: “As Christmas nears Costain and Skanska have revealed that the spirit of Scrooge is alive and well.

“Costain and Skanska’s failure to pay the correct overtime rates has cost workers on the site thousands.

“Unite suggested a ‘Turkey truce’, which would have acted as a goodwill gesture and created a less hostile environment in which to negotiate and resolve the real and growing problems on site.

“Yet CSJV is so arrogant and cares so little for the workforce, it did not even acknowledge this peace offering and instead gave it ‘the bird’.”

Expected demonstrations in 2020

Swain added: “As a result protests, which could cause considerable disruption, are continuing and will do so into 2020.

“Both Costain and Skanska are infamous in the blacklisting scandal and their current behaviour shows they learnt little or nothing and continue with their union busting activities

“The question remains why are Costain and Skanksa prepared to become the pariahs of the industry? What else have they got to hide?”


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