Unite the union has today (31 March) repeated its call that non-essential construction and maintenance works stop with immediate effect and that workers be put on full pay following the latest revelation of firms who continue to put workers at risk.
Today, the union has been informed by its construction members working out of the Polmadie and Ayr depots that works associated with Transport Scotland’s motorways and trunk roads continues by Balfour Beatty as management maintain its ‘business as usual’ despite workers raising health and safety concerns. Unite contacted Balfour Beatty last week seeking clarification on what strategy the firm had on keeping their workforce safe during the Covid-19 pandemic but have still not received a response.
On Friday (27 March), Unite welcomed the instruction by the Scottish Government to close construction sites not linked to the health service. However, the country’s leading construction trade union has been inundated by reports that construction workers continue to turn up for work at non-essential sites, and are having to use public transport or shared transport in order to comply with employer requests or face losing wages. Unite has called for ‘tougher measures’ to ensure firms comply with government instruction and advice.
Unite regional industrial officer, David McGurk, said: “Unite has been informed that Balfour Beatty continues on non-essential maintenance works for Transport Scotland. We have been told that one manager said that it was ‘business as usual’ which our members find absolutely shocking. It shows the scant regard for the health and well-being of workers. Workers are sharing welfare facilities, changing rooms and sharing vans which makes it impossible to respect the two metre social distancing rules.”
“While we understand the need for emergency cover and essential repairs the carrying out of graffiti removal, cutting short grass and carrying out other non-essential duties is reckless and dangerous in the fight against Covid-19. The First Minister stated last week that only essential work should be carried out but Transport Scotland is allowing their contractors to carry out non-essential duties. We call on Transport Scotland and Balfour Beatty to cease this work immediately and that the workers be put on full pay.”