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A construction industry trade union has taken the first steps to launching industrial action that could disrupt Crossrail, the cross-London railway project, if its request to be more greatly involved in worker safety is not granted.

In a unanimous vote at the end of last week, delegates at the annual Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) conference held in Llandudno carried an 'emergency’ move for intervention.

UCATT is demanding that its own representatives are included in all discussions about safety on the project. Wanting to become involved to set plans, processes, and define the appropriate safety workwear, the trade union also wants independent safety committees to be set up.

The motion passed at the vote empowers UCATT to hold demonstrations. The union has said it will also 'name and shame' those companies on the Crossrail project that it thinks are not taking worker safety seriously enough.

The general secretary for the union, Steve Murphy, explained:

“Crossrail must listen to its workforce and UCATT [is] the voice when it comes to safety. It is vital that safety is dramatically improved on the project.”

Showing widespread support for the action – which comes weeks after a worker was killed on the project – Jerry Swain, the union’s regional secretary, supported Murphy by saying:

“UCATT is not going to stand idly by if contractors on Crossrail gamble with workers’ lives by blocking the appointment of safety reps.”

Saying they were fundamental to reducing the number of construction site accidents, Swain added that they were vital to saving lives at work.

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