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Politicians wade into union hospital dispute

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Politicians wade into union hospital dispute

A ROW between a construction workers’ union and the firm building the new £212 million hospital in Dumfries continues to escalate.

It comes despite an intervention by a local MP Richard Arkless, calling for contractor Laing O’Rourke to work together with the union UCATT and allow it access to the Garroch Loaning site.
The row has already reached the Scottish Parliament, where South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth tabled a motion criticising the behaviour of contractor Laing O’Rourke over allegations it has refused union access at the Garroch Loaning site.
Wading into the dispute earlier this week, Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless said he backed the motion and had written to Laing O’Rourke urging the company to work together with UCATT.
He also appealed to NHS Dumfries and Galloway chairman Jeff Ace for his help in getting both parties into meaningful negotiations.
And he hoped the issue could be resolved after a meeting which then took place on Tuesday.
UCATT regional secretary Steve Dillon met with Laing O’Rourke’s senior employee and industrial relations manager Trevor Donoghue.
But claiming his appeal was rejected for workers to be able to speak with the union in canteens and without management present, Mr Dillon said: “They want to intimidate workers not to join the union and if someone shows any interest then they will be marked as a target from day one.”
And after a demonstration at the hospital site in November, he added: “This issue will not go away.
“The campaign to win access from Laing O’Rourke will be ramped up over the coming months.”
A spokesman for Laing O’Rourke said: “This was a private meeting to discuss the union’s concerns regarding positive engagement.”
The firm says it offers a nominated official a slot within site inductions giving them a chance to speak to people on site and advise the benefits of trade union membership.
The spokesman said: “As an organisation, Laing O’Rourke continues to value the role of the trade union movement and the support they offer to our employees and ourselves.”

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