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Militant caucus stirs up revolt over Olympic pay

NEWS - UK Rank & File Building Workers Committee seeks 'grass roots' say on pay and site conditions

HARD-LEFT union militants are threatening to disrupt Olympic projects unless site workers are given more say in agreeing pay and conditions.

The UK Rank & File Building Workers Committee - which is calling for £20 an hour and a 35-hour week on 2012 projects - is seeking a meeting with Olympic Delivery Authority board member and T&G assistant general secretary Barry Camfield to discuss the demands.

The f ledgling group claims full-time officials from the main construction unions hold too much sway at the expense of grass roots members.

BWC secretary Steve Kel ly said: 'We are never consulted on what is happening on building sites. We're not going away, even if they'd like us to. If we do go away, they will take control of the Olympics.'

Ucatt member Brian Higgins added: 'We must build this into a nationwide site movement building towards another national strike on the scale of 1972.

'Some of you may have heard of Chairman Mao, who said political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. I say power comes from the barrel of a mixer. Stop the mixer and you stop the job.'

ODA construction director Howard Shiplee has been in talks with senior officials from Ucatt, the T&G, Amicus and the GMB over industrial relations on the Olympic project.

One source said: 'The ODA is aware of groups like the BWC, but they will only thrive if there is a vacuum.

'We have been talking to the ODA about what we're after in terms of direct employment and recognising national agreements.

'The potential issue will be driving the standards down the supply chain because the guys at the top are basically management contractors. There has to be a monitoring structure in place.'

ODA chief executive David Higgins told a health and safety briefing this week: 'We expect to have a strong relationship with the unions on the project and talks are under way. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber wants to make sure this is an exemplary site.'

The ODA last week launched its health and safety strategy, which aims to limit reportable accidents on the site.

The Olympic Park will be a 'zero tolerance of accidents' site. Before work even begins designers will have to show how they have taken safety risks out of the process.

A fully qualified workforce will have access to regular checks under the delivery authority's occupational health programme.

The ODA will measure its health and safety performance against explicit targets, which will be set when construction begins.

Bob Card, deputy programme director for delivery partner CLM, said: 'We want to send a clear signal to the supply chain that they need to be working on safety. We view this as the next step in evolution from T5.'