BLACKLISTING: Unite demonstration at Crossrail raises temperature in dispute

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By John Millington

Blacklisted workers continued to heap pressure on construction bosses today, with a lively protest outside the Crossrail project in Westbourne Park.

10 foot tall inflatable rats – a reference to rogue bosses – were erected outside the site gates with workers and other union activists blocking  the entrance to incoming vehicles.

Much of the anger was directed at site contractor BAM, Ferrovial and Kier (BFK) who are accused of  removing a sub contractor EIS because some of their workers began raising health and safety concerns.

One union shop steward Frank Morris who was sacked along with 28 other EIS workers has kept up his protest on a daily basis for several months.

However last week, he claims he was assaulted by security operatives guarding the BFK part of the site.

Speaking outside the Crossrail site, Unite lead officer for construction Guy Langston highlighted a Scottish Affairs Committee intirim report which names 18 of the known 37 contacts for the blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association who are currently engaged with companies on Crossrail, the biggest construction project in Europe.

The successful demonstration marks an escalation in tensions between unions and BFK with Mr Morris’s case been taken to Employment Tribunal.

Mr Langston said:

“We want his job back. We want health safety reps and industrial reps on all Crossrail sites. Otherwise as far as we are concerned, it is still blacklisting of our members.”

“I believe Crossrail in conjunction with their contractors want to run the site as cheaply as possible and without any unions involved.”

He added that the presence of health and safety was vital to prevent deaths on the site.

“We are looking at a four year campaign… to get health and safety reps on all sites and with all contractors,”  he pledged.

Unite also claims that it has a signed witness statement from the Managing Director of EIS agreeing that trade union activity was the reason they had their contract on Crossrail terminated.

The campaign has even attracted local residents who have become sympathetic to Mr Morris’s plight.

Local resident Elaine Arthur said she would join the rolling campaign every morning because as “a taxpayer paying for the Crossrail project, I feel I have every right to ask if there is union safety reputation” on the site.

A Crossrail spokesman denied any wrong doing.

“Frank Morris has held regular demonstrations outside BFK’s site at Westbourne Park since September 2012. A further demonstration took place last Thursday, ” he said.

“As a result of high winds his banners and placards began to block the highway and also came into contact with passing pedestrians. Mr Morris refused to move these materials when asked.”

“The Metropolitan Police attended and spoke to the security officer and other witnesses and confirmed no issue.”

“The police spoke to Mr Morris about obstructing the highway and left.”

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