Olympic Delivery Authority decision not to insist on directly employed labour increases risk of strikes

EXCLUSIVE

The threat of damaging strikes on the 2012 Games building project has multiplied after the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) confirmed it would not insist on using directly employed labour.

The ODA’s head of HR Wendy Cartwright told Personnel Today: “Direct employment is something trade unions are pushing very strongly for, but we have to think about what contractors would actually be able to do.”

An ODA spokeswoman confirmed: “We have to be realistic about what we can do in our timescale and with the budget we have.

“When we recruit construction companies, we insist they pay everyone above the London living wage [£7.05]. We don’t insist on direct employment as long as the fundamentals are there.”

Construction union Ucatt responded angrily, saying wildcat strikes could be called if work on the £5.3bn construction project was subcontracted.

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: “Direct employment for the Olympics is an eminently securable goal, just as it was for Heathrow Terminal 5.

“The alternative, of a fragmented, bogus self-employed workforce, would be disastrous. It would lead to more deaths and serious injuries, no training opportunities for local people, widespread exploitation of migrant workers, and the possibility of delays, cost overruns and wildcat strikes.”

Cartwright accepted there was a risk of strikes, but said the ODA had done everything it could to minimise the threat.

“We have to be mindful that there [will be] 9,000 workers on site, working on a variety of different projects,” she said. “We can never guarantee we won’t have industrial action, but we are mitigating against it.”

Olympic building contracts are still being fought over, with a shortlist announced this month for the Aquatics Centre project. Clearing work is under way across the 2012 site in advance of construction beginning next year.

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