The union Unite said it has reached an agreement with Balfour Beatty to ban the employment of workers through ‘exploitative’ umbrella companies on a major Highways England contract.
It said the agreement covers the Area 10 asset support contract, which is currently managed by a Balfour Beatty/Mott MacDonald joint venture and covers motorways and major roads in Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
The agreement includes agency workers employed on the contract. Balfour Beatty has also agreed to permanently employ any agency worker who has been on the contract for at least three months, Unite said.
Unite's regional co-ordinating officer Andy Fisher said: ‘This is a significant decision. Not only does it alleviate the misery of umbrella companies on this contract but it demonstrates that, through negotiation, Unite is able to stamp out the misery of umbrella company exploitation.
‘Unite will not only be ensuring that the agreements on umbrella companies and agency labour is extended to whoever inherits the Area 10 contract but extends these commitments to other similar contracts.’
Unite said that during the negotiations over the banning of umbrella company workers, it had successfully cited Balfour’s own document: Modern Slavery and Labour Exploitation: Guidance and Requirements for Suppliers.
It said that the document is targeted at subcontractors and agencies and makes clear that Balfour Beatty will not allow its supply chain to charge direct or indirect fees for employment.
Highways has approached Balfour Beatty for comment.