MSP wants answers in Forth bridge pay row

editorial image

Lothian MSP Neil Findlay is in urgent talks with the Scottish Government over pay and conditions on the Forth crossing.

The union UCATT has raised major concerns about the level of pay said to be earned by workers employed by a sub-contractor of the Forth Replacement Bridge Company.

But this week Mr Findlay said “a range of concerns” about management of the employment side of the contract had spurred this week’s crunch meeting with economy minister Keith Brown.

“There is a holiday pay dispute, there are allegations about workers not having legal status to work in the UK, and concerns about how the umbrella company is paying workers”, he said.

The MSP has called for an immediate audit on the whole project, following claims by UCATT that the contractors are to blame for numerous problems. Steve Dillon, regional secretary for UCATT Scotland, said: “The Forth Crossing project is bringing not only the Scottish construction industry into disrepute but also the Scottish Government.

“How difficult is it to do a job of work properly and fairly? This country prides itself on common sense and fairness – so now the Scottish Government needs to show some.

“We welcome Neil Findlay’s motion and now call on the Scottish Government to audit this listing project before it starts sinking under a tide of infamy.”

An investigation by UCATT has claimed joiners for Portuguese sub-contractor Sosia Ltd were being paid £7.67 an hour and labourers £6.32 per hour, well below the agreed levels.

The minimum rates for workers on the project are £11.61 an hour for joiners and £8.73 for labourers..

In 2015 workers downed tools over holiday pay, and last month a raid by immigration officials found seven workers from the Indian sub-continent allegedly being employed illegally.

The Scottish Government has effectively referred complaints to the contractors, commenting: “It is for our contractor Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) to manage matters relating to its workforce and sub-contractors. However, Transport Scotland takes any allegations with regard to health and safety practices and employment conditions very seriously.”

The Scottish Government spokesperson added: “Transport Scotland will continue to work with contractors to ensure that all obligations over workers’ rights, health and safety and pay are being met.”