Leaked emails reveal mistreatment of rail workers ‘driven to exhaustion’
CROSSRAIL workers are being driven to physical and mental “exhaustion,” bosses at the site admitted in explosive emails released by construction union Ucatt yesterday.
The consortium’s own industrial relations manager reports a “lack of/no welfare in tunnel” and a two-mile walk to the loo in a string of emails obtained by the union after freedom of information requests.
Two workers who complained were secretly photographed then “suffered serious victimisation” after the picture was circulated, in what the union described as a “chilling echo” of the blacklisting scandal that has rocked the construction industry.
Many of the disgraced blacklist firms caught red-handed ruining workers’ lives are now working on the Crossrail project, including main contractor Costain-ATC.
The Ucatt investigation revealed a lack of basic facilities such as toilets, with workers forced to walk a two-hour round trip to relieve themselves; victimisation by bosses of any worker who complained; a senior engineer saying safety laws were being flouted; and “sinister” circulation of photographs of union officials and individual employees.
The union also said workers had been denied their wages because of a breakdown in the consortium’s electronic payroll system.
More than 1,000 workers are employed on the Crossrail development, which involves the construction of a new rail network in London and south-east England.
Workers who staged a protest outside one of the construction sites were threatened with violence by supervisors and lorry drivers, as reported in the Star.
The email from industrial relations manager Nicola Brown reported: “No toilets in tunnel this morning and no communication to workforce, two miles walking to toilet. Current mood on site — workforce are exhausted, physically and mentally.”
Ucatt London and south-east regional secretary Jerry Swain said: “These internal emails reveal only too clearly why ATC and Crossrail didn’t want Ucatt on site.”
ATC produced a “draconian list of unfeasible requirements” to keep Ucatt reps away, said the union, with hurdles including a five-day notice period for visits and only allowing meetings after shifts had ended.
“This supposed flagship construction project for the UK is one big, long list of abuses by management towards the workers,” said Mr Swain.
“Not only that, ATC and Crossrail have then sought to cover up this shambles by keeping unions off site and targeting those involved in peaceful protests.
“The government, Transport for London and the mayor’s office need to step in and get a grip on Crossrail and the main contractor ATC, because both parties are dragging this high-profile project through the mud and mistreating their highly dedicated and skilled workforce.”