Editor’s comment: Give these workers their jobs back

A site foreman and two bricklayers on the Dover Court Estate. Picture: LUCAS CUMISKEY

A site foreman and two bricklayers on the Dover Court Estate. Picture: LUCAS CUMISKEY - Credit: Archant

The treatment of workers on the Dover Court Estate is outrageous.

First they were told to keep working in what their foreman deemed dangerously hot conditions – and knowing what simply sitting in our office is like in this weather, I can only imagine the temperatures they reached under heavy-duty uniforms while doing manual labour.

And then they were laid off in the name of the very thing they were concerned about in the first place: health and safety on site.

Obviously no one would advise turning up on a building site without proper protective gear. But when it gets so hot that work in that gear becomes dangerous or inhumane, it is incumbent upon the people in charge of the project to find a solution. If the site were underwater, a hard hat wouldn’t cut it – the workers would need diving equipment, wouldn’t they?

I’m also a little disappointed in Islington Council’s refusal to get involved, given that the town hall is bankrolling the estate regeneration in whose name all this has been done. Islington doesn’t dictate the on-site rules, but one might expect a council run by the party of workers to have a little more concern for workers’ rights. After all, it has vowed to get 100 per cent of its contracted workers onto the London Living Wage with (so far) 98pc success – so why wouldn’t it also want them to work in safe conditions?

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Whether it was Lovell or GRT Builders (which refused to speak to us) that laid these workers off, they need their jobs back immediately – not to mention some adjustments so the site is safe for work during the heatwave.

And well done to the workers who had the courage to speak up about their treatment. Whistleblowing to the press is demonised within so many organisations as unhelpful troublemaking when in reality there’s often no one else to turn to.

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