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Rok's boss steps in to sort Phase rights row

NEWS - Chief executive talks to union then commits to ensuring subcontractors offer holiday rights and sick pay

ROK CHIEF executive Garvis Snook has stepped in personally to settle a row over contract terms offered to self-employed bricklayers on the firm's £23 million housing job in east London.

The 'New Deal for the Communities' job in Canning Town has been the focus of a series of protests by construction union Ucatt over contract terms offered by subcontractor Phase Brickwork.

Ucatt claimed Phase was denying its members rights on holiday and sick pay.

Demonstrations against the firm included a site invasion and workers chaining themselves to the doors of the client's office.

Phase has now been told by Rok it will not be invited to tender for further packages on the job once its current contract is finished at the end of this month.

And Rok will also be checking all subbies' contracts to make sure workers are being given their holiday and sick pay entitlements.

The move follows a meeting between Ucatt London regional secretary Jerry Swain and Mr Snook.

Mr Snook said: 'I had a useful and frank discussion with Mr Swain and we have agreed to allow Phase to complete its current contract, which only has a few more weeks to run.

'Clauses in future Rok subcontracts would not permit subcontractors to employ people on the terms and conditions that have led to the union's concerns.

'I have also asked Mr Swain to discuss any future matters of concern with the company directly at senior level prior to embarking on publicity-seeking actions.'

Mr Swain said some of his members were taking Phase to employment tribunals and Ucatt would be cracking down on contracts abuse.

He said: 'Whenever we see firms acting like this we will protect Ucatt workers and some of our members may want to take direct action.

'We are pleased that this situation with Phase has been resolved and that Garvis Snook took on the issue personally and dealt with it in the proper manner.'

A Phase spokeswoman said: 'We haven't heard anything about not being invited to tender for the other packages and, as far as we know, nothing has been settled.

'The Ucatt people caused mayhem down on that job and now they are taking us to a tribunal.'