Olympic Delivery Authority at war with construction union Ucatt over building project

EXCLUSIVE


The £5.3bn Olympic Games building project is heading for industrial relations meltdown as a stand-off intensifies between trade unions and the body responsible for overseeing the event.


Negotiations over employment contracts have stalled, with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) at loggerheads with construction union Ucatt.


The union wants the vast majority of labour to be directly employed by contractors involved with the Games, while the ODA has failed to guarantee this will be insisted on.


Now, Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie has accused the ODA of dragging its feet over the issue.


Construction of the Olympic Village and stadiums is due to start early next year, but Ritchie told Personnel Today: “We’re making it absolutely clear that we cannot accept a position where direct employment is not on the agenda.”


Ritchie refused to rule out strike action if the issue was not resolved.


“There will be a number of options open to us, but they will need to be discussed first,” he said.


Ritchie claimed promises by the authority on the use of local labour, apprentices and health and safety would be broken if the ODA, as the client, did not insist on direct contracts of employment.


He said this would result in excessive use of cheap migrant staff and increase the risk of deaths on site.


The Athens Olympics construction project relied on foreign labour, resulting in at least 13 fatalities and widespread criticism.


“If you don’t have a framework with good industrial relations then you are going to have a problem with delivery, and risk pure anarchy on site. I don’t think that situation would suit anybody,” added Ritchie.


An ODA spokesman said it was finalising an agreement on how the authority and contractors should work with unions on issues including employment practices.


“We have agreed most items and are in the process of working through outstanding issues,” he said.


The ODA’s draft equality and diversity strategy states that “a high level of direct employment is desirable to secure best employment practice”.

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