HS2 ‘rats’ on construction workers

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Youth from the Chesham and Amersham campaign, determined to stop the HS2 destroying their community

THE HIGH Speed 2 (HS2) contractor has ‘ratted on overtime agreements’ the Unite union alleged yesterday.

Unite, which represents construction workers building the line, expressed anger and dismay after commitments to ensure that workers on the HS2 project would receive the correct overtime rates were reneged on.

Last month, Unite exposed how labour supplier Bowercross Construction Ltd, which supplies workers to the Costain/Skanska joint venture (CSJV) which is undertaking enabling work on the HS2 project at Euston, is not paying workers the correct overtime rates, which on average is costing workers over £100 a week.

Following Unite’s revelation CSJV issued a statement promising the correct rates would now be paid. It said: ‘We have looked into Unite’s report concerning the industry agreement rate for overtime and weekend duty, as well as holiday entitlement. The company concerned has been instructed to remedy this with immediate effect so that we meet our required standards.’

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said: ‘Workers on HS2 are being treated with contempt.

‘HS2 should be the premier construction project in the UK but the contractors and subbies on the project can’t or won’t pay the workers correct rates of pay. It is worrying to think contractors brought onto HS2 by Costain/Skanska are seeking loopholes in order to cut workers’ wages. I dread to think what else is going wrong with this project.’

The HS2 has hit problems from the start.

If completed, it will directly connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

It is scheduled to open in phases between 2026 and 2033, however it is now greatly behind schedule.

It boasts high-speed trains that will travel up to 400 km/h (250 mph) on 330 miles (530 km) of track.

Thousands of people’s homes in the path of the planned route are planned for demolition, and compulsory purchase orders have been issued.

The cost of building the HS2 is not only behind time but massively over budget.

The cost of buying the land for the first stretch of the HS2 rail link alone is likely to spiral to £5 billion, campaigners have warned.

That is nearly five times the original £1.1 billion budget for purchasing properties along the route between London and Birmingham.