Protest over Wilton EfW recruitment policy

UK: The Sita-led consortium says EfW facilities require specialist equipment and labour, which must be sourced from the EU

An artist's impresson of the plant
An artist's impresson of the plant

Workers from the GMB union are to march on 18 April as part of an ongoing dispute over the hiring policy used for the construction of an energy-from-waste plant in north-east England.

The £250m (€300m) EfW plant at the Wilton International industrial estate near Redcar, North Yorkshire, is currently being developed by a joint venture involving Sembcorp, Sita and I-Environment Investments, known as Sita Sembcorp UK. The joint venture won the deal in May 2013.

The march will go through Redcar and is the latest instalment in a long-running saga involving allegations around the employment of non-British workers and low pay and accommodation allowances.

Work started in May last year with contractor Clugston Construction building the plant and ever since local workers have complained of unfair treatment.

In the latest action, the GMB says local workers have been "discriminated" against, giving them "no chance" of getting up to three quarters of the 400 on-site construction jobs, which have instead gone to European rivals.

A spokesman for Sita Sembcorp said a "significant proportion" of workers were local, but it "would be difficult" to deliver the project without people from wider EU member states due to the EfW industry being highly internationalised.

He added: "All workers on-site, regardless of their nationality, are employed because of their individual skills and abilities. They have a legal entitlement to work in the UK and contribute to the local economy while they are here. Furthermore there is no substance to allegations that they are employed on site as a means of sourcing cheap labour."

The joint venture will also be developing a waste transfer station in Knowsley to transport the waste by rail from Merseyside to the plant.

Both the transfer station and the EfW plant, which will treat 430,000 tonnes of waste a year, are due to begin operations in 2016.

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