Unions discovered that Polish workers were paid 30% less than the agreed rate
17th March 2009: The pay of Polish workers at a power station construction site in Kent has been increased after unions threatened industrial action.
Unite received a copy of a contract for a Polish worker at the site which reveals that subcontractor Remak is paying the worker less than colleagues at the site.
Under the national agreement, the standard rate for an advanced craftsman is £14.00 an hour but the contract seen by Unite states that the same grade only receives £10.01 an hour.
Unite and the GMB threatened to hold a national strike ballot after discovering that Polish workers were being paid 30% less than the agreed rate.
The main contactor on the Isle of Grain site, Alstom, has now said it would pay the agreed rate of £14 per hour.
In a statement Alstom said: "We have addressed the concerns raised by the GMB about the pay rates of Polish workers.
"These workers are now being paid the correct rate of pay and we have made it clear to our sub-contractors that we will not tolerate any breaches of national agreements on pay and conditions.
"We are reinforcing the need for all our sub-contractors to be fully compliant with these agreements at all times."
Mr Davies is, however, still sceptical about whether the employers would honour the agreement in full. "It appears that it is good news," he said. "But I’m taking the announcement with a pinch of salt, until I’m assured everything else is correct, to ensure the employers are not clawing the money back elsewhere."
Unite is also demanding that the workers being underpaid receive all the back pay which is owed to them. The union has also learnt that the sub-contractor expects its employees to pay for their own personal protective equipment, which is against UK health and safety legislation. By law contractors must provide their workers with protective equipment.
Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said: “Remak has exploited its non-UK workers, excluded UK workers and Alstom lets the company get away with it. We demand that Remak and Alstom bring these underpaid workers’ contracts into line with UK legislation and the agreed pay rates. We deplore this attack on negotiated pay rates, and this discrimination by the company against the foreign workers.”