Union officials claim the new Forth Bridge/Queensferry Crossing project has “downgraded” its commitment to workplace safety by not reappointing union conveners.
They say they are alarmed at the move, particularly as at both the new Forth Bridge/Queensferry Crossing and another major project, the Aberdeen West Peripheral Route (AWPR), workers have suffered serious accidents during construction.
Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors flatly deny the “downgrading” claim, and stress their commitment to health and safety.
The union complains both projects had UCATT convenors trained in health and safety, but weren’t replaced when they were appointed to be union officials based off-site.
It has highlighted the fact that in April this year a 60-year-old worker was killed on the Forth Bridge construction site when he was hit by a moving boom on a crane, while another man was injured.
UCATT Scotland, regional secretary Steve Dillon said: “We were all shocked at the death on the Forth Bridge site and the scale of the accident on the AWPR.
“These are both huge, high profile, public-funded projects where we and the general public would expect to find the highest, most stringent levels of health and safety provision – and, of course, continual scrutiny. Our convenors are trained in health and safety.
“One of their roles is to pre-empt problems and be another set of trained eyes on such vast projects.
“The decision by the consortia not to reappoint new convenors has reignited fears amongst construction unions that major companies have not learnt the lessons from the blacklisting scandal and are failing to engage with the union movement, creating longer term problems.
“What lies behind these decisions and why are safety concerns being swept aside when everyone knows there have been real safety issues on these sites? UCATT, the Scottish Government and the Scottish public need to know.”
A Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) spokesman told Queensferry Gazette: “FCBC can confirm that it has not downgraded its commitment to constructive industrial relations and work place safety. FCBC is committed to ensuring that the health and safety of everyone working on the site remains its number one priority at all times.
“Since the beginning of the Queensferry Crossing construction programme, FCBC has enjoyed a close working relationship with UCATT and they continue to have an involvement in the project.”
Meanwhile construction firm Amey - not part of the consortium - has stressed its commitment to health and safety during its work on the Forth Road Bridge (see p2).