The Unite union has claimed that Suez and its construction partner Sembcorp are failing to recognise employment agreements for workers building an energy-from-waste plant on Teesside.
The union alleges that the project, a joint venture between the two companies (Sita Sembcorp UK), is being built outside the terms of national employment agreements for the construction industry which have been in place for more than 30 years.
Unite regional officer Steve Cason claimed that the dispute had escalated because Sita Sembcorp had refused to allow the union to conduct a wage audit.
“Other issues raised included bonus and overtime rates, as well as holiday pay,” he said.
In a statement, Suez (previously Sita) said the union had already visited the site to inspect working conditions.
“No evidence was provided by the unions to suggest that wage rates or terms and conditions of employment were incongruous with the unions’ respective national agreements,” it said.
“Sita Sembcorp will, of course, investigate any genuine concern made to us by a member of the workforce employed by any one of more than 30 contractors on-site, in respect of their terms and conditions of employment. We take employment matters seriously and will investigate the specific complaint raised.”
Unite also said it was contacting a number of local authorities to discuss their pay arrangements with Sita Sembcorp, but the company said that the project was being constructed solely on behalf of the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA).
Alex Murray, MWDA director of operations, said: “MWDA is aware of the issues being raised, and is working closely with its contractor Sita Sempcorp UK to respond.”
Unite said that it would continue to increase pressure on the company through its supply chain.
Suez said: “We feel that it is necessary to reiterate that all parties involved in this dispute have a duty to ensure that information they place into the public domain is, at the very least, clear and factually accurate.”