Friday, 21 September 2012

How long till Crossrail have blood on their hands?

How long till Crossrail have blood on their hands?

In a short time, Crossrail has become Europe's biggest construction project. Completion is not due for another 6 years and at its peak will have over 15,000 M&E workers. That is just the M&E side, if you take in to consideration all of the other trades then then this will have at least 30,000 people working on it at any one time. That's 300,000 man hours a day, 2,100,000 man hours a week. With that amount of hours and the ignore it Health and Safety culture on Crossrail, before long, there will be fatalities to construction workers up and down the line.

With such a large project, with such large amount of working hours, attracting skilled trades from all over the UK and Europe. Surely the first thing Crossrail and the Contractors are thinking of is safety of the workforce.

But sadly, it would appear not. Only last week 28 M&E workers were removed from the Westbourne Park Crossrail site and 15 more have been removed from the Crossrail site at Chatham Docks.

What was the heinous crime, the terrible act, the gross wrong doing so great that these two sets of workers get sacked in the space of 4 working days?
They were sacked for raising health and safety concerns and for belonging to a Union.

The 28 workers from the Westbourne Park site worked for a contractor called EIS who had secured 3 years work on the site. 6 months in and Crossrail - BFK (BAM, Ferrovial, Kier) just cancelled the contract and threw EIS off the job. Two and a half years early. At 3pm, Friday(14th Sept) afternoon all EIS employees were frog marched from site.

A few weeks earlier, the EIS workers had a meeting to discuss the serious Health & Safety issues they had on the site. From that a Shop Steward and a Safety Rep was elected.

A few days later the Safety Rep was removed from site after raising concerns with the tunnel emergency evacuation lift. The lift can take 20 people so no more than that should be working in that section of the tunnel at any one time. When it was noticed that there was 26 people working in that section he raised his concerns with Crossrail-BFK, he was removed from site. He was initially suspended for 6 weeks and eventually transferred to another project where he worked for one week before being suspended again. All this took place within three weeks.

The Shop Steward was banned from the Westbourne Park site for raising safety issues with the Tunnel Boring Machine. He was removed from site and place in a site hut for 11 hours per day with no job to do, in solitary confinement. Banned from going on to site indefinitely.

The EIS Electrical Supervisor was next on the hit list. He noticed that a live 11,000 volt cable was running along the tunnel without protection, covered in bits of scaffolding, boulders and other site debris. He took a picture of this extremely serious issue and took it to the Crossrail-BFK in-house "safety" team.
Within the hour, Mr Horello, working on behalf of Crossrail-BFK, was removed and banned from site.

ALL of this happening within three weeks.

Then mysteriously EIS and all their employees were removed from site altogether. No warning, no notice, gone.

Instead of dealing with the safety issues, Crossrail-BFK decided to relieve themselves of all responsibility and terminated the EIS contract with nearly 3 years still to run.

Unite the Union has complained to Crossrail's HR Director, Mr Ron Baron, about its members treatment. However, it has come to our attention that Mr Baron has contributed  to the blacklisting and the ruining of thousands of workers lives through his role in the illegal Consulting Association.

Because of this the Construction Rank and File decided that a picket of the Crossrail site at Westbourne Park was in order. To attempt to get the 28 M&E Workers back on to the job when a company is bought in the replace EIS.

On Monday 17th we over 50 of us met up at Westcombe Park Crossrail site to picket the job.

The picket has been on EVERYDAY this week with no deliveries making it to site.

On Wednesday evening we descended on the largest of the Crossrail sites in Ceentral London, Tottenham Court Road.
In the middle of a concrete pour, in rush hour traffic, with other concrete lorries waiting to get on site, the surrounding roads and entrances were blocked for two hours.

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