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MORE than 100 Yorkshire construction workers protested in Leeds today against the exploitation of employees at the site of a new power station being built outside the city.
Members of Unite and GMB marched around security guards protecting the site to demonstrate and demand it be built under Britain’s national construction agreement — a collective bargaining framework that sets the terms and conditions of employment for the hourly paid engineering construction workforce.
The site is run by Japan-based Hitachi Zosen Inova, which specialises in building power stations that burn waste products to make electricity.
The Leeds project is the company’s 14th in Britain. Eleven of these have been built using low-paid overseas labour, ignoring the national agreement, according to the unions.
Unite acting national officer for construction Chris Wheldon said: “The company has refused to operate under the national agreement.
“We are demanding that it should be built under the agreement, and we also want the power station to involve apprenticeships for local workers.”
The construction, on the site of a former coal-fired power station, Skelton Grange, is expected to involve 500 workers, with 40 long-term jobs when it is operational from 2025.
Mr Wheldon said that the only two Hitachi-built power stations in Britain built under the national agreement were at Ferrybridge, also sites of two former coal-fired power stations.
“We seem to be holding the line in Yorkshire,” he said.
The unions have written to Leeds Central Labour MP Hilary Benn asking him to intervene and to Leeds City Council, which has planning powers for the development.
Hitachi Zosen Inova was invited to comment.
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