Socialist Worker

Crossrail workers occupy bosses' office in protest over missing bonus

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2532

“Pay up!” say protesters in Laing O’Rourke’s office

“Pay up!” say protesters in Laing O’Rourke’s office (Pic: Art Against Blacklisting)


Over 100 construction workers protested against Crossrail bosses in London last Friday.

They are angry over Crossrail’s refusal to stick to the national JIB agreement, which allows for additional “second tier” bonus productivity payments.

The protest started at the Crossrail’s Canary Wharf headquarters. It then moved to Oxford Street with workers blocking the road.

Protesters then occupied the headquarters of construction giant Laing O’ Rourke.

Andrew Wolstenholme, chief executive of Crossrail, part of Transport for London (TfL), earned £910,000 in 2015, including £359,000 in “performance-related pay”.

Yet Crossrail bosses have told workers to go back to the contractors, and the contractors say Crossrail is responsible for the payments.

A number of contractors issued warning emails and texts to discourage workers from attending the protest.

According to one worker, “Telling people not to protest is typical. They don’t want unions and they don’t want people organised. But they don’t have a choice.

“We are looking for the second tier payment. We are not going to put up with it, they need to pay up.”

Others were angry that Crossrail bosses refuse “to recognise democratically elected stewards”.

Safety

The project has seen a series of protests over pay and health and safety.

Guy Langston, a regional Unite union officer for Crossrail said, “It’s a demonstration because they refused to talk to the unions in regards to a second tier payment.

“Health and safety is an abomination so these lads have taken it upon themselves to come out and have a day of action.”

Union activists claim to have been subjected to bullying, intimidation and surveillance at various Crossrail sites.

Bosses have tried to punish workers who have taken part in action or trade union activities. Some workers have been suspended after organising on the project.

Workers on the Crossrail tunnelling project, run by the Costain-led ATC consortium, lost money due to the failure of its digital fingerprint timekeeping system.

Bosses had to admit its failure after a human timekeeper was appointed.

Workers complained of issues including not being paid properly, toilets a two-mile walk away and inadequate canteen facilities.

But the protest showed there is the potential for workers to win. There have already been victories over weekend working.


For a video of the protest go to bit.ly/2fHZmX0

Article information

News
Tue 29 Nov 2016, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2532
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