Firms found breaching national pay agreements agree to correct underpayments

A Polish worker’s pay has been brought in line with nationally agreed pay levels, after it emerged the employee was being paid almost £4 an hour below the pre-agreed rate.

Under a national agreement, commonly known as the ‘blue book’, the standard rate for an advanced craftsman in the engineering and construction sector is £14 an hour. However, according to union Unite, the worker in question claimed that the hourly rate of pay was just £10.01.

Alstom, the company contracted by E.ON to carry out the work, and Remak the company to which Alstom sub-contracted part of the work, have agreed to bring pay for all workers into line and to provide backpay for the underpaid Polish worker.

A spokesman at the firm said: “Workers are now being paid the correct rate and we have made it clear to our subcontractors that we will not tolerate any breaches of national agreements on pay and conditions.”

However, Unite is concerned that this not an isolated incident, and that underpaying is a problem throughout the industry.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said: “This is clear evidence that undercutting exists in the industry despite fierce denials to the contrary.

“The employers association turns a blind eye to the rotten practices in this industry. Our members in the construction industry have even been blacklisted when in reality there should be a blacklist for the employers who break the law, exclude UK workers from applying for work and underpay their employees.”

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