Any contractor that will get appointed to the stalled Midland Metropolitan hospital project in Sandwell will have to adhere to the requirements that have been set out by construction union Unite.
Originally planned to become operational this month, the hospital project has been stalled since the main contractor Carillion collapsed in January 2018 and it is not expected to be completed until at least 2022.
In order to ensure workers are treated fairly and not exploited whenever the project resumes, the union wrote to Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to seek that any contractor appointed to the project adheres to the following requirements:
- 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.
“Local residents desperately need a new hospital which must become operational as early as possible but this must not be at the expense of the construction workers who will undertake this vitally needed work,” said Unite regional officer Su Lowe.
“Exploitation can only be prevented and fair treatment guaranteed by recognising industrial agreements, guaranteeing direct employment and allowing unions proper access to the workforce. Unless workers are treated fairly and decently there is likely to be further problems with the construction of this site, which will create even more delays, causing even greater misery for patients and staff,” So Lowe added.
The local NHS Trust is working to appoint a contractor for the project.