Seven people have been arrested on suspicion of being illegal foreign workers after a raid on the Queensferry Crossing construction project.
The raid, by the Home Office Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement team, took place on Monday. The individuals – who are understood to be from the Indian sub-continent – were not employed directly by Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) but through a second-tier labour-only subcontractor.
However, union UCATT claims the incident is just one example of wider workplace abuses on the site.
Steve Dillon, regional secretary of UCATT Scotland, said: “This flagship project is now operating like the Wild West. Without a union convenor the site has no sheriff and this is inevitably going to increase the exploitation and mistreatment of workers.”
He added: “To restore confidence on the project the Scottish Parliament must tell the contractors to give unions full access and to re-appoint a convenor to deal with problems as soon as they occur.”
UCATT said it also believed southern European workers employed by sub-contractor Sosa on the project are being paid below industry-agreed rates. Project contractor FCBC said it has co-operated fully with the investigation.
Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for the economy, said: “I have written to the Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill requesting an urgent discussion and to seek reassurance over the measures in place to address the issue of the use of illegal foreign workers.
“It’s important that the construction industry can responsibly provide the correct resource to support the delivery of our pipeline of infrastructure projects.”
The seven men are expected to appear at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.