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New Ucatt chief says safety is top concern

Alan Ritchie polls twice as many votes as rival Michael Dooley to win top job at Ucatt

THE NEXT boss of Ucatt has vowed to make health and safety and bogus self-employment his highest priorities when he takes up the post next month.

Alan Ritchie polled almost twice as many votes as rival Michael Dooley, the London regional organiser, when the result of the second round of the leadership contest was announced last week.

In all, Mr Ritchie received 8,744 votes, over 66 per cent of the vote, while Mr Dooley picked up 4,435 votes.The turnout was19 per cent, down on the 24 per cent who voted first time around.

Mr Ritchie, Ucatt's Scottish regional secretary since 1991, will take up his post on October 21 when general secretary George Brumwell steps down after 13 years as head of Britain's biggest construction union.

Mr Ritchie,52, told Construction News : 'The issues of bogus self-employment and health and safety are still there.The industry is still plagued by a number of old Victorian attitudes and I want to work with employers and bring construction into the 21st century.'

He added that too many firms were pricing jobs low and having to cut back in other areas, such as health and safety, to save money.

Mr Ritchie's rival Mr Dooley congratulated him and said: 'The membership has shown who they want to lead the union and I'll be working with Mr Ritchie for the good of the union.'

Mr Ritchie will accompany Mr Brumwell at next week's Trades Union Congress conference in Brighton and is also expected to be present at the Labour party conference in the same city at the end of the month. He said: 'Under the rules of the union George is still the general secretary but obviously I will be liaising with him quite a lot over the next few weeks.'

He currently lives in Paisley, on the outskirts of Glasgow but is planning to move his wife and two children down to London, where he will be based at Ucatt's headquarters in Clapham.

Earlier this summer the election was hit by claims that Mr Dooley had attacked a colleague in the car park of Ucatt's head office in a row over campaign leaflets for Mr Ritchie.Mr Dooley denied the allegations made by development officer Pat Long and this week was told he no longer had a case to answer.