Workplace Report June 2007

Health & safety news

Union wants direct labour on Olympic building sites

The construction of venues for the 2012 Olympic games will involve serious safety risks unless workers are given proper employment rights, building union UCATT has claimed.

Talks with the Olympic Delivery Authority are currently deadlocked over UCATT's demand that contractors should use only directly employed labour.

General secretary Alan Ritchie said the Olympics project should follow the example of Heathrow's Terminal 5, which was built on time and on budget using direct employment. He warned that a fragmented, self-employed workforce would compromise safety - as happened during the building of the new Wembley stadium.

"Past experience demonstrates what happens when you use bogus self-employed workers on major projects," he said. "Deaths and serious injuries increase, costs spiral out of control, projects are finished late and work is beset by wildcat strikes."

The union says at least 13 construction workers died while working on sites for the Athens Olympics in 2004, which relied on casualised self-employed workers. In contrast, there was one fatality during the construction of facilities for 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when a direct employment model was used.