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Berkeley bars union reps at Gunwharf site

NEWS Workers with safety concerns demonstrate after security blocks ofcials

LOCAL Ucatt members staged a demonstration outside a Berkeley Homes job in Portsmouth on Tuesday after union officials were refused entry to the site.

Workers on the Gunwharf Quays site had raised concerns over safety measures and claimed they were not receiving full holiday pay.

When two union officials tried to visit the men, Berkeley Homes' management refused to discuss the matter and told security to bar them from entering the site.

Jerry Swain, Ucatt London south-east regional secretary, said: 'We have received general complaints about safety on the site.

Nothing specific but people are saying the safety is not good. We've also had specific complaints about people not getting all their holiday pay.

'We have a legitimate role to play and this demonstration is about the treatment of our officials. Berkeley Homes' management has a 'high and mighty' attitude.

'I am not sure what Berkeley Homes have to hide or fear from Ucatt. The whole of the construction industry should be seeking to set the highest possible standards in respect of safety and ensuring that contractors on their sites comply with the law. I have today written to the chief executive of Berkeley Homes.'

A spokesman for Berkeley Homes said: 'We have had no direct approach from Ucatt or discussions regarding this action and so we are not aware of their specific concerns or objectives. We are unable to find any such letter from Ucatt.

'People turned up on site without an appointment and expected access. If they had gone through the proper channels things might have been different.'

Berkeley Homes emphasised that pay disputes are a matter for the subcontractors and their employees.

It's not the first time that Berkeley Homes has hit problems in Portsmouth. The firm was the original developer for the troubled Spinnaker Tower, which was supposed to open in time for the new millennium. The firm pumped £5.8 million into the project before eventually pulling out. Mowlem completed the 170 m structure for Portsmouth City Council. It opened five years late and £11.1 million over-budget.