Two subcontractors have had their contracts cancelled at a Sita Sembcorp UK energy-from-waste plant in Teesside following an investigation into wage undercutting.
The site’s main contractor CNIM Clugston Wilton decided to terminate the contracts of the two firms after they failed to respond to an investigation looking into contractors’ pay rates at the Wilton 11 EfW plant near Redcar.
CCWL also confirmed that one other subcontractor was still under investigation.
The news comes amid a long-running row between trade unions and contractors over working conditions.
Last month, three construction unions visited the plant with independent interpreters to review conditions and pay at the site.
According to GMB, Unite and Ucatt unions, representatives discovered that a number of overseas workers were being paid below the National Joint Council for Engineering Construction Industry’s (NJC) pay agreements.
The discovery prompted SSUK and CCWL to launch an investigation into subcontractors’ pay rates.
This investigation was due to be finished seven working days after the 25 August but has yet to be officially completed.
According to CCWL, the pay rates for more than 60 of the site’s subcontractors were checked.
Of those firms CCWL investigated, it found 57 were paying their staff in line with NJC rates.
Two firms failed to respond, with both since having their contracts terminated.
One more firm is facing further investigation. CCWL confirmed that if any pay anomalies were found they would be adjusted accordingly and with immediate effect.
Ucatt regional secretary Denis Doody said: “Ucatt is very concerned about what is happening at Teesside, we would like to know who these subcontractors are and what the reasons are behind their contracts being cancelled.
“We would also like to know what this means for the people working for these companies and how many will be affected.”
Unite regional officer Steve Cason said: “They have said from day one that everyone is paying the correct rates, and then all of a sudden when the pressure is right on them now, we have been told they have got rid of two contractors and a third is under investigation.
“We need a forensic wage audit, that is the only thing that will get to the bottom of this.”
SSUK has rejected the unions’ calls for a wage audit.
A spokesman for SSUK said: “We have received a number of allegations from Union members, all of which have been investigated thoroughly and the vast majority of which are baseless.
“There is no question that the site is being run to extremely high standards, with excellent health and safety practices, and all subcontractors are paying rates that are in line with English law.
“Furthermore, we have not sought, nor obtained any financial benefit from the use of overseas contractors at the expense of domestic UK contractors in the construction of this facility.
“SSUK expects all workers to be paid in line with the NAECI and CIJC rates, wherever they are from.
“Our position is clear and has been the same throughout discussions with union representatives.
“If any subcontractors are found to be paying less than the appropriate rates of pay, no matter how small the differential, then we will apply pressure to ensure this is rectified immediately.
“We have the assurances of CCWL that any subcontractor that fails to comply will be dismissed from the site.”
SSUK said it would be meeting union officials on 30 September to discuss the Teesside plant.
A spokeswoman for CCWL told Construction News: “We take the situation very seriously. Given investigations are still continuing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”