Angry Crossrail sparks threaten industrial action

Grant Prior 2 weeks ago
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More than 100 electricians held an off-site meeting yesterday to discuss their next move in a simmering row over working hours on Crossrail’s Whitechapel station in East London.

The Enquirer understands that the meeting was addressed by union officials from Unite and sparks discussed possible industrial action.

Workers claim changes to their working hours and bonus regime could leave them up to £400 a month worse off.

The new working plan will see electricians on the job forced to decide whether they will work eight or 10 hour shifts with no flexibility built in.

Bonuses on the site are triggered once workers put in 50 hours a week.

One said: “Hours for bonus purposes have always had a bit of flexibility built in.

“If you planned to work a ten-hour shift down there but were knackered after eight then there was always a bit of give and take.

“The system has worked perfectly well for a couple of years and Whitechapel has been one of the less militant Crossrail sites.

“But now this has come along and everyone is fuming and talking about industrial action.

“There was a big turn-out for the meeting on Monday and Unite National Officer for Construction Jerry Swain addressed us.”

Swain was unavailable for comment.

A shake-up in working practices has been introduced after Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick project director Steve Eccleston was replaced by fellow company project director Gary Fleming, who previously worked at Woolwich station.

More than 200 electricians are working on the station M&E project for the Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, VINCI Construction joint venture.

Work was due to finish last year but workers said the station will likely not be finished until the end of this year.

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick’s workforce of electricians working on the Crossrail Whitechapel station project agreed to receive a productivity bonus should they meet the required criteria of working 50 hours per week.

“There has been no change to this agreement criteria. To ensure all of our employees are fairly rewarded for their work, the project is simply ensuring that the workforce comply with the agreement which has been in place for 18 months.”

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