Full statement: Harris Pye responds to Hull workers' claims

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 27 Nov 2017

Construction firm Harris Pye has responded to multiple claims made by picketing workers at an east Hull biomass plant.

Trade unionists have organised three demonstrations at King George Dock since August amid claims about zero hours contracts and working conditions at the site.

Harris Pye broke their silence on the issue on Friday and issued the following statement to the Mail:

"Despite ongoing discussions with trade unions we are very disappointed at recent events that have taken place in Hull.

"We would like to point out that the protests that have taken place are not official, legal strike action; and that the full and fair system of balloting members and providing formal notice has not taken place. We do not believe any of our current workforce were present in the protest that took place on Thursday November 23.

"We understand from members of Unite and GMB, and via social media, that more protests are to take place and that they are also bringing union members in from other areas to assist. As far as we can see in advance none of these people have any connection to Harris Pye.

Three protests have taken place in as many months.

"Over the coming days we will be taking further steps to ensure the safety of our workforce during our remaining time in Hull. This is an issue that we have had to raise with GMB on a previous occasion, including serious personal threats made online to one of our employees and his family.

"It is alarming to read the racial undertones that are a common theme in online discussions. We are a global company and are proud to have a diverse workforce able to travel to projects for us and all of whom have the legal right to work in the UK.

"We have seen a number of inaccuracies in published statements and we would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight:

  • We do not dismiss people for failing to work 12 hours / 7 days a week. We have a number of workers who have been working on the Hull site for many months who have never worked a 7-day week and only work 5 hours on a Saturday.
  • As a global company we have used zero hour contracts for years without issue. We have informed the unions that we are willing to discuss this with workers, in relation to changing this practice, but have not been able to obtain any information from them that will allow us to begin consultations.
  • Our salary scale is conditional on experience and qualifications, and also includes travel and accommodation for workers who are not local.

The three demands that we are being accused of not agreeing to were only issued by email on October 31 2017. Therefore, leaving less than a month before arranging a protest, and despite us continuing to engage in discussions with the unions and suggesting a compromise, seems excessive.

Workers form a picket line at King George Dock in September.

A site visit for the purpose of health & safety has been offered to Shane Clarkson of GMB and John McIntyre of Unite on a number of occasions. For obvious safety reasons neither we, nor our client, would allow any visitors onsite unescorted.

  1. Access to payslips. These are classed as highly confidential personal data that is protected under the Data Protection regulations and we are not legally able to disclose such information. We do not agree that blocking out names would assist in proving transparency.
  2. The final "demand" was for us to change from using zero hour contracts. As previously explained, this is not an overnight process. We have requested information to begin consultations on three occasions since we received the unions’ "demands" on October 31 and nothing has been forthcoming.

"We are concerned that our discussions with the unions have not been held in good faith. We have had a number of meetings with GMB to try and resolve issues including providing information on our salary scales and implementing a number of changes at their request.

"Our site in Hull is nearing completion and in the meantime we ask that the union takes a firm line against anyone threatening or intimidating behaviour towards our workforce."

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