Rank and file sparks have begun a new protest campaign over rights, rates and recognition and at one of the largest sites of its kind in Europe.


Rank and file sparks activists have begun a new protest campaign over rights, rates and recognition and at one of the largest construction sites of its kind in Europe.

Around thirty Unite members joined a dawn leafleting protest outside the new Southern General Hospital site in Glasgow on Friday, protesting against working conditions and what they regard as excessive use of agency working by the numerous sub-contractors involved in the £842 million project.

The complex includes a 14-floor adult hospital with more than 1100 beds, a children’s hospital, maternity unit and extensive laboratory facilities.

Last January, crane drivers held up work on the site when they walked off the job in a dispute over a promised pay rise.

At present, only UCATT is recognised by any of the employers.

The rank and file sparks are now demanding recognition of Unite, in order that their reps can also be allowed onto the site.

Leading rank and file organiser, Willie Black (pictured, right) told UnionNews:”After the success of the BESNA dispute, we could see that one of the problems in the industry was the amount of agency working.

“We need to be allowed to organise on sites like this so that the employers are not allowed to come back with another version of that kind of contract.

“What we’re saying to the employers is: you’d better deal with us. We’re not going to go away and you’ll have to negotiate with us, apply the national agreements and allow proper union organisation on this site.”

Following the protest, it emerged that the lead contractor, Brookfields Multiplex has responded to a request from Unite national organiser Bernard Macaulay for talks and managers have agreed to meet Unite on 12th April.

Rank and file activists later lobbied the constituency surgery of the SNP Deputy First Minister and Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon.

She agreed to meet a sparks delegation early next month.

In February, Unite reps met SNP government officials and expressed the union’s concerns over the procurement of the hospital contract and union recognition at major construction projects which are expected to be awarded in Scotland in the coming year.

Activists say they regard the promised contacts with employers and ministers as positive news, but say they are prepared to escalate any action if there is not material progress in the near future.

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