Unite, the construction union, is stepping up its campaign to ensure that when work restarts on the Royal Liverpool Hospital, construction workers on the project are not exploited and that unions are fully recognised.

Unite’s concerns about ensuring that workers are treated fairly is a continuation of the campaign involving politicians, community groups and unions, which resulted last month in the local NHS Trust and the government agreeing to ditch the private finance initiative (PFI) and to fund the completion of the hospital directly.

Unite has written to Adrian Kehoe the chief executive of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University NHS Trust, seeking strict guarantees that any contractor appointed to complete the project:

  • Adhere to national industrial agreements that govern pay and conditions
  • Use local labour and suppliers
  • Workers are directly employed (not employed under a form of bogus self-employment)
  • Exploitative forms of employment such as umbrella companies are outlawed
  • Trade unions are recognised and are given proper access to the workforce.

A meeting with the trust to discuss Unite’s demands has been arranged for Tuesday 13 November. An agreement on these matters is essential prior to a new tendering process and a main contractor being appointed.

Unite has also secured the support of Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson and the Liverpool Metro mayor Steve Rotheram who have participated in a video supporting Unite’s campaign.

When the previous contractor Carillion collapsed in January 2018, the hospital was around 85 per cent complete. Since then it has emerged that there were major structural problems with the hospital’s construction including with the beams and the external cladding. It has been speculated that £100 million will need to be spent on remedial work. Initially the hospital was budgeted to cost £335 million to build.

The NHS Trust has so far refused to publish the findings of the report compiled by Arup into the structural problems identified at the hospital.

Unite regional officer Colin Carr said: “The decision to ditch the PFI and for the government to publicly fund the completion of the Royal Liverpool hospital was a huge victory for the people of Liverpool.

“However, that victory will be severely tainted if the workers recruited to complete the project are exploited and mistreated.

“Exploitation can only be prevented and fair treatment can only be ensured by recognising industrial agreements, guaranteeing direct employment and allowing union’s access to the workforce.

“It is also essential that the trust releases the report into the hospital’s structural problems, it is only through transparency that the general public will be reassured that the problems that have beset the project have been identified and will be resolved.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. 

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.