Union claims fewer quarry job cuts now being sought
THE TRADE union involved in the dispute over working terms and conditions and threatened redundancies at Glensanda Quarry on the Morvern peninsula claims company bosses have backtracked on the number of jobs it wants to cut.
And the GMB Scotland union has praised the Lochaber Times for its coverage of the issue, saying this has played a major role in supporting local employees.
The Lochaber Times recently reported that three- quarters of the workforce at the quarry had formally lodged grievances with new haulage operators Oban Earthworks over the threat of redundancy and changes to their terms and conditions.
Relations between the union and the company have been strained, with the former accusing Oban Earthworks of blatantly disregarding employee protections enshrined under TUPE regulations and of threatening to axe 25 workers.
The company hit back, accusing the union of ‘ill-advising’ workers to raise grievances.
Oban Earthworks, a new Spanish company, was recently awarded the primary load-and-haul contract at Glensanda by Aggregate Industries, which operates the quarry site.
This week GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook claimed recent developments had seen Oban Earthworks reduce the number of redundancies it was seeking from 25 to 16.
‘Nine workers have opted for voluntary redundancy, while former operator Hargreaves has agreed to take six staff back onto its books. That means Oban Earthworks just needs an additional person to agree to go,’ Mr Cook said, adding that there had also been movement on disagreements over new shift patterns.
‘All this only happened after we went to yourselves, the local press, and it proved the press often has a very important role to play in such situations.
‘The guys working there have really appreciated the paper’s support.’
However, Mr Cook also added that a formal request for GMB recognition lodged with the company was not going smoothly.
‘Unfortunately, the company replied saying news reports it regarded as negative and derisory were not the way for us to seek union recognition. It seems like they’d prefer us, basically, to be licking up to them,’ he said.
Asked to comment on the union’s statements, Jon Simarro, director of Oban Earthworks, said: ‘ As the consultation process is still ongoing, we are unable to confirm the exact number of voluntary redundancies at this stage.
‘However, we are continuing to have positive conversations with staff members and continue to support them during the process.’
The Lochaber Times has also seen an email exchange between employment consultants Solve HR, which acts on behalf of Oban Earthworks, and Mr Cook. In it, Solve HR suggest the GMB should postpone its request for union recognition for its Glensanda members for various administrative reasons.
Solve HR also say Mr Cook’s refusal to give any future assurances on collaborative working and restraint in using the press meant the company was likely to see little value in recognising the GMB.
Mr Cook’s response was withering, telling Solve HR that he would not ‘cow down’ to them or anyone else when it came to to how people are treated in the workplace. And Mr Cook told Solve HR that the GMB was prepared to use legislation through the Central Arbitration Committee, the independent body responsible for resolving workplace disputes, as well as the courts, to pursue its quest for GMB recognition.