Protest at hospital site against exploitation

Protestors at the new emergency hospital site in Cramlington.
Protestors at the new emergency hospital site in Cramlington.

A protest was held at the site of a new hospital in the county this morning, against the exploitation of construction workers.

Construction union UCATT is planning to wage a campaign against the rise of umbrella companies paying fixed-term contract site workers.

Officials in the north east took part in the first protest today at Lend Lease’s £70m Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital job in Cramlington.

The union said it was targeting the site after being tipped off that workers employed through umbrella companies were being used for subcontract packages on the project.

Denis Doody, regional secretary for UCATT’s Northern Region, said: “This is an outrageous example of exploitation of construction workers on a publicly funded project.

“The workers are being made to pay both the employee and employer National Insurance Contributions, which equates to more than 25 per cent of their gross eligible pay.

“The workers are also receiving rolled up holiday pay, which means that their holiday pay is in their rate of pay and they are not paid when they take time off.”

UCATT also said that in some cases workers on the hospital project were only paid the national minimum wage with the reminder of their pay being made up in expenses.

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell, who joined protesters said: “It is terrible, it is exploitation of the worst kind.

“It is disgraceful and if it had happened in the pit we would have been on strike.

“They want a living wage not a minimum wage.”