Unite, the UK’s construction union, is preparing to take legal action in the increasingly bitter Crossrail dispute, after Balfour Beatty ceased paying agreed bonuses.

Unite has described Balfour Beatty as acting like ‘guttersnipes and common thieves’.

The dispute involves 76 electricians employed by Balfour Beatty on the Woolwich Crossrail station. Workers took their third day of strike action today (February 7) following previous strikes on 10 and 31 January. Further strikes are planned for 14 and 21 February.

The strike is a result of Balfour Beatty’s refusal to pay an improved second tier payment and an industry standard four week finishing bonus (payable when workers are made redundant).

In response to the entirely legal strike action Balfour Beatty has deducted the workers’ bonus payments from their wages, which are part of their contracted earnings.

In response Unite will step up its industrial activity and hold a series of demonstrations at different Crossrail sites to coincide with the next strike on Wednesday 14 February.

It has also emerged Balfour Beatty is attempting to cut the pay of supervisors on the project by £1 an hour. Balfour Beatty has told the affected workers they have been overpaid them and the company is now trying to recoup the money.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “Balfour Beatty’s management are no better than guttersnipes and common thieves and they should hang their heads in shame at their pathetic attempts to bully workers.

“Balfour Beatty’s actions have generated levels of anger not seen before in our membership and the ensuing demonstrations will show their fury.

“Balfour Beatty’s entirely unnecessary actions will backfire and are set to cause even further delays to the multi-billion Crossrail project.

“Unite will be using all legal avenues available it in order to ensure that the workers have their bonus payments repaid.

“Rather than stealing workers’ bonuses, Balfour Beatty should be getting round the negotiating table and resolving this dispute.”


Notes to editors:

A finishing bonus is standard practice on comparable major projects. It allows workers to give notice on their lodging, without suffering financial loss. All the electricians employed at Woolwich live outside London and have had to arrange temporary accommodation while employed on Crossrail.

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.