Roadside workers also at risk, warns UCATT
The Area 10 highways management contract which is the second largest in the country and covers the M60 and M62 area is set to be transferred from existing contractor A1 plus to Balfour Beatty/Mott McDonald on the 4 November.
Due to government cuts the Highways Agency has reduced the level of service required on the contract.
The new contractor is proposing to reduce blue collar staff numbers by over 50% from 220 to 103.
As part of the cuts all Incident Support Units will be removed. The support units play a crucial role in protecting workers in making temporary highways repairs and help to ensure incidents are minimised and traffic is kept moving.
Since the introduction of Incident Support Units six years ago there have not been any fatal accidents or serious injuries involving workers in the area. Prior to the introduction of Incident Support Units there had been four fatalities on the network.
The staffing reductions are so deep that it will become very difficult to maintain winter maintenance programmes, especially during prolonged spells of bad weather. This further increases safety concerns.
Jimmy Woods, Acting Regional Secretary of UCATT’s North West Region, said: “These savage cuts are bad news for everybody. They will decrease safety for workers and road users and will lead to increased delays on the road network.
“It is simply impossible to operate this contract with so few staff; all parties must come together and agree a realistic way forward.”
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