Unions protest over biomass plant pay rates

By Michael Upton | 12/04/2017

Unions protest over biomass plant pay rates

PROTESTS have been held this morning over pay and conditions at a Rotherham construction site.

The protests near the under-construction biomass plant off Sheffield Road in Templeborough focus on several Danish firms who are involved in the funding and building of major energy from waste projects in the UK.

South Yorkshire Police this morning warned motorists of possible travel disruption on Sheffield Road due to the planned protest.

Construction unions GMB and Unite allege that the companies are undercutting and exploitation of construction workers by as much as 39 per cent compared to agreed industry rates.

Representatives from the two unions will be handing in a petition containing over 5,000 signatures to the Danish embassy at 11am calling on the Danish government to launch an investigation.

The unions said Babcock & Wilcox Vølund, which is building the £165 million Rotherham plant, sub-contracted large chunks of their work to Croatian company Duro Dakovic, which paid workers as little as the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour.

The industry agreement (NAECI) has a basic rate of £16.97 an hour with an hourly bonus of £2.37 an hour.

Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for construction, said: “We have endeavoured to negotiate with the construction companies responsible, but they refuse to sign up to national agreements in the UK, such as NAECI, which would put everyone on a level playing field.

“Construction workers are angry that Danish companies are exploiting workers and undercutting pay rates, to boost their profits.”

A spokeswoman for Babcock & Wilcox Vølund said: “We are disappointed by the disruption caused to Templeborough residents and businesses by the union protest today.

“We have held constructive talks with unions at both a local and national level, and we believe good progress is being made.

“We would therefore call upon them to stop these actions, and instead direct energies to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
“Once completed, our sites will deliver significant benefits to these local communities and the country as a whole with a conservative estimate of £40 million to the economy.

“We are part of a growing number of renewable energy projects across the UK, all of which generate clean and safe forms of power from renewable sources, and help to protect our environment.”

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