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Crossrail and contractors ordered to improve safety — or face worker action

CROSSRAIL and its contractors were ordered to improve safety on Europe’s largest construction project yesterday or face mass demonstrations by workers who will name and shame the worst offenders.

The pledge came as a day of health and safety debates kicked off with a minute’s silence for a construction worker in his 20s who died on Tuesday while working at a site in Maidenhead.

Delegates at construction union Ucatt demanded their safety reps were elected on all sections of the Crossrail project that stretches from the east to the west of London.

They also called for safety committees to help prevent further deaths on the multibillion-pound project.

The union pledged to “expose any attempts to hinder” its safety drive with mass demonstrations.

The call followed the publication of a damning leaked safety report after a worker was killed on the Crossrail project in March.

“Ucatt is not going to stand idly by if contractors on Crossrail gamble with workers lives by blocking the appointment of safety reps who are vital in reducing accidents and saving lives,” retorted Jerry Swain, London and South East regional secretary.

Delegates also accused the government of “playing Russian roulette with workers’ lives” by cutting a 35 per cent chunk out of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) budget.

Ucatt Yorkshire branch spokesman Andy Turner said: “Health and safety is about blood and sweat, not pounds and pence.”

He also expressed disgust at Tory plans to give employers powers to “self-police” health and safety.

Conference agreed to vigorously campaign against HSE cuts and any privatisation or commercialisation that will compromise its ability to ensure the safety of workers.

London and south-east region’s Dave Allan said: “Every two years we meet to discuss health and safety at work and each time protections are being more and more watered down.

“They are still deregulating HSE and if we don’t start stepping up our action the carnage on our sites will continue.”

He called on construction workers to mobilise and march to Downing Street in a mass demonstration against health and safety cuts.

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