Crossrail electrician and Unite the Union member Dan Collins was laid off by contractor Skanska after he raised a safety concern.
“I started work on Monday 9 February. They told me it was a three-year contract. A foreman showed me around – there was an abundance of work to do. He asked me if I didn’t mind working 12-hour days or weekends.
On the Wednesday I noticed 16-inch wide boards lying across a metre-high elevated steel section, over which Labourers were carrying materials in and out of the area. The boards weren’t fixed down. Someone could slip off the board, with their foot going through the grate.
I spoke to my Skanska supervisor. I put an observation card in. These companies promote a safety programme on site. But the reality is it’s all about ticking boxes and signing sheets to make them look like an ethical employer.
I told another foreman, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He said it was fine, there hadn’t been an accident so far. I then told the Skanska engineer – she asked me if I’d put an observation card in. I said yes, but we needed to do something straight away.
That evening when I locked up my tools, my supervisor complained: “I’ve been getting my ear chewed off about this in the office. You’ve been here two days. Stop going on about it.”
He said an observation card had been put in against me for using my phone in an unapproved area. But I was only taking a photo of the hazard as no one was listening!
On Friday the agency called say there’d been a downturn of work and I was no longer needed. But before there was three years of work!
I spoke to the health and safety manager and project manager. They said they were aware of the issue but were not going to change anything. They said I wasn’t laid off for raising health and safety but due to a downturn.
I went back to site to finish my shift, but the fingerprint scanner had stopped allowing me access. The security guard let me in, but the foreman then escorted me off site.
The worker facilities were across the road. My supervisor was with another guy. They stood either side of me while I got changed and packed, then escorted me out the door.
If they had nothing to hide as a business, if they weren’t sacking me for raising health and safety issues, then why was I having my shift cut short and being escorted off the job?
They’ve got their own health and safety managers which approve any method they see fit. The only way to question their methods is to have a unionised job with health and safety reps elected by the workforce.
I went to the Rank and File meeting in Glasgow, which voted unanimously for a campaign against Crossrail to get me reinstated, for union representation and direct employment so we get employment rights and national agreements.”
There are daily morning protests and leafleting outside the Bond St site from 7.30am. There is also a protest in support of Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group and author of the ‘Blacklisted’ book this Friday, who was arrested on a Crossrail protest. It is outside Marylebone Magistrates Court 181 Marylebone Road NW1 5QJ – assemble at 8am, the case starts at 9am. Please support. Follow #Crossrail and #Crossfail on twitter to keep up with the latest developments.