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Construction workers protest after Leeds University blocks union access

CONSTRUCTION workers will stage a protest at the University of Leeds today after it effectively barred their union Ucatt from a project to build a new library.

Shepherd Construction, which won the £27 million contract, had previously employed workers on decent terms and conditions.

But construction union Ucatt has revealed Shepherd is now using “umbrella” companies, including a firm called Moortown, to avoid employing direct labour with full employment rights.

Ucatt regional organiser Mark Martin said: “What have Shepherd and Moortown got to hide? By barring Ucatt from the site, they are clearly worried about something.

“If they haven’t got anything to hide they should allow the union access to speak to workers.”

The union said that under the umbrella-firm con, workers in most cases have to pay both their own and their employer’s share of national insurnace — over 25 per cent of eligible earnings.

And it means workers’ holiday pay is rolled up in their rate, denying them paid leave. And in many cases the worker is also placed on a zero-hours contract.

Ucatt’s demonstration will embarrass the university as hundreds of students and their parents attend graduation ceremonies.

Leeds University said it would issue a statement but had not responded by the time the Morning Star went to press.

Mr Martin added: “Forcing workers to operate via umbrella companies is a form of exploitation as the worker has to pay the costs that their real employer should be paying.

“It is outrageous that these practices are being allowed to occur in Leeds.”


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