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Protest at £180m EfW plant over contractor pay

Unions have launched a protest calling for better pay for workers carrying out the construction of a £180m energy-from-waste plant in north Wales.*

Unite the Union claims more than 150 members protested this morning against French contractor CNIM and its payment terms for workers on the the Parc Adfer EfW plant project in Deeside, north Wales.

The union has accused CNIM and its subcontractors of not adhering to National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), and only paying staff the national minimum wage.

The national minimum wage is currently £7.83 per hour for people over 25, while the NAECI agreement states the lowest grade worker should get at least £9.27 per hour.

Unite argues that NAECI agreement should be adhered to on EfW projects such as Parc Adfer.

CNIM was appointed as principal contractor to deliver the Parc Adfer project by US firm Wheelabrator.

Scunthorpe-based contractor Clugston was then appointed by CNIM to undertake the building and civil engineering.

EfW developer Wheelabrator is delivering the scheme on behalf of the North Wales Residual Waste Treatment Partnership – a consortium of councils led by Flintshire County Council and including Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Isle of Anglesey councils.

The plant will see more than £800m invested over a 25-year period, with construction expected to cost £180m.

Unite regional officer Steve Benson said: “The ‘race to the bottom’ and undermining of national agreements by CNIM on this public-private partnership construction project is shameful.”

CNIM and Clugston have worked together on a number of energy projects across the UK in the last 10 years.

In April 2017 the JV was chosen by Pennon Group to deliver its £252m EfW plant in Avonmouth near Bristol.

A CNIM spokeswoman said: “CNIM has followed good practice in the UK for more than 20 years and with regards to the Parc Adfer project, has been clear that it complies fully with UK law and observes all relevant UK legislation.

“NAECI is an optional agreement. Parc Adfer was procured by local authorities in 2016, who are duty bound to make the best use of public funds. The UK and Welsh Governments are clear that NAECI is not specified as a requirement for local authority projects. As a result, the project is not designated as being a NAECI site and will not become one.

“There are no local authority projects to date that have been designated NAECI and as far as we are aware, no project has become one after the procurement phase has closed.

“In line with CNIM’s Good Practice Guide, the procurement of all contracts on the Parc Adfer project meets or exceeds the Welsh Government’s code of conduct with the voluntary living wage the minimum rate of pay.”

*This article has been changed. The original piece said the protestors had been working on the Parc Adfer project, this is incorrect. While the protest was a union campaign, protestors were not union members that worked at the Parc Adfer site. 

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