The managing contract to complete the troubled Royal Liverpool hospital project has been handed to Laing O’Rourke. Following the collapse of the Carillion, the project stalled, and is now hoped to restart next month.
However, the appointment of Laing O’Rourke has raised concerns among the UK construction union Unite. Unite will apply greater pressure to the client, the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University NHS Trust, to establish clear rules that will ensure proper union recognition and fair treatment of the workforce.
“Unite is committed to ensuring that the Royal Liverpool hospital is completed as quickly as possible but that must not be at the expense of workers rights or to the detriment of their health and safety,” said Unite regional officer Colin Carr.
Unite has already seeked guarantees from Adrian Kehoe, the trust’s chief executive, that the contractors will adhere to national industrial agreements that govern pay and conditions; will use local labour and suppliers; workers are directly employed; exploitative forms of employment, such as umbrella companies, are outlawed; and trade unions are recognised and are given proper access to the workforce.
“Providing there is clear leadership from the Trust, Unite looks forward to working together with Laing O’Rourke to ensure that workers are properly treated and the mistakes made on previous hospital contracts in Liverpool are not repeated,” said Colin.
“However, given the battle there has been to get the project restarted and for it to become a directly funded public sector project with the cancellation of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), Unite will not stand idly by and allow construction workers on the Royal Liverpool to be exploited or for unions to be denied access,” he added.
The concerns raised by Unite will be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday, the 13th of November, with the project being expected to be completed in 2020.