Construction union attacks use of agency workers on railways

George
Brumwell, leader of construction workers’ union  UCATT, called today for an end to the practice of using agency
labour on Britain’s railways.

He
said: "Hundreds of UCATT members work on the railways, but almost all for
the big contracting companies.

"What
concerns them is the way some contractors have very few trained staff and top
up with agency workers. Many of the agencies will send you anyone – perhaps
someone who the week before had been a cleaner in a hotel or stacking shelves
in a supermarket."

Brumwell
highlighted an investigation by the London Evening Standard, which showed how
easy it is to get a track job on the railways without proper training.

"The
training, as the Evening Standard investigation proved, is minimal.
Certificates to work on the track are dished out like night club flyers. There
is a lack of qualified people 
everywhere, and in some cases agencies will send illegal
immigrants," he said.

He
called for an immediate audit of all agency staff who work on the railways to
check their work permits, credentials, training and skills.

"We
should make contractors take the agency people onto their payrolls and make
them full time staff so that they can train them properly and so that the
workers can gain the necessary qualifications and imbibe the culture of the
railways.

The
union leader also believes there is a need for fewer contractors and more
Health and Safety Executive inspectors. "The situation on our railways at
present is an absolute scandal. We know this. Our members see these abuses
every day."

By Ben Willmott

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