Workers protest over Rotherham power plant pay rates

CONSTRUCTION workers protested outside a Rotherham power plant against what they say is undercutting of pay rates for non-UK staff.

Scores of pickets from the GMB, Unite and UCATT trade unions demonstrated on Tuesday morning at the Templeborough Biomass plant, a £150 million, 45MW power station under construction at Templeborough Road in Rotherham.

Unions claimed the firm was among a number of “unscrupulous” construction companies exploiting non-UK workers at rates of pay as low as £7 per hour, rather than paying £16.64 per hour under the relevant UK collective agreements.

Officials said the main contractor for the Rotherham site and two others in Wales and Scotland was a consortium of Babcock Wilcox Volund and Interserve Construction Ltd.

Volund is part of the Babcock and Wilcox Group.

Bob McNeill, GMB regional organiser, said: “GMB members have negotiated and honoured the terms and conditions of our national agreement for decades and I support our members’ campaign for the national agreement to be fully implemented on the Rotherham site.

“Interserve and Babcock Wilcox Volund (BWV) are undermining our agreement by exploiting non UK workers and paying inferior terms and conditions.”

Ged Dempsey, Unite NEC member from Rotherham, said: “There was a massive turnout by Unite, GMB and UCATT members incensed at how they are being treated.”

“Skilled workers and their families are being denied paid work. It’s a disgrace.”

Both firms said they were disappointed the protest had been held.

An Interserve spokesperson said: “We have discussed matters with the unions and we continue to work with all of our stakeholders to achieve a satisfactory outcome.”

BWV said: “We have significant experience of delivering projects such as these both in the UK and internationally, we will continue our work and progress towards their successful completion as soon as possible.

“Our contractors are selected upon careful evaluation, and while some are based in Europe many are local businesses from around the site regions who will benefit from involvement in the projects.

“There are further opportunities for us to work with local communities over the coming months.”