UNITE, the UK’s construction union, has warned that plans by the London Resort, the Disney style theme park due to be built in the Kent estuary, to house 2,000 construction workers at Tilbury, requires full consultation, to ensure that workers are well treated.
Under the plans, which were revealed today (Monday 1 March) by BBC Radio Essex, after completing their shifts the workers would be transported across the Thames to the ships at Tilbury. The construction project is due to begin in 2022.
Unite believes that in order for the project to be successful, the client London Resort needs to enter into detailed discussions with Unite. The union has concerns about the quality of the accommodation, the cost of both the accommodation and food, and the ability of the workers to freely leave the ships and venture into the local area.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “On the face of it this looks like an attractive option for workers. The Hinkley Point project has demonstrated how good quality accommodation for major construction projects attracts highly skilled workers.
“However, it is essential that the cruise ships don’t in reality become an expensive prison.
“It is essential that those concerned in the project enter into negotiations with Unite, to provide guarantees on not just the price of accommodation but the cost and quality of the food provided, as workers will have no access to their own cooking facilities.
“Workers are human beings and in order to protect their mental wellbeing it is essential that they are able to freely leave the ship and visit the local community.
“There also needs to be guarantees about the quality of the accommodation throughout the life of the development. At the moment due to Covid-19 there is a huge surplus of cruise ships but when that market recovers, it would be immoral to force workers into clapped out hulks.
“if these concerns are not addressed then the most skilled workers will vote with their feet, they will either look for work elsewhere, or become demotivated which will greatly damage productivity, creating delays.”