Monday, March 12, 2007

The Dirt on the Dome

There has been much speculation about the Dome, owned by one Philip Anschutz, and whether or not it would get a licence to operate as a Super Casino. That is not what this is about. In fact it isn't really about Philip Anschutz, or his company AEG which now owns the Dome site.

It is about who is building in the Dome, and should they be?

There is currently much construction going on in the Dome. In fact it is a building site. There are now clear rules about who can and can't work on a building site, for health and safety reasons. All construction staff have to have a Construction Safety skills Certificate, or CSSC, which in theory means that you know that building sites work on 110 Volts not 240, about slip hazards and other safety matters.

These cards have a 7 digit number. When you want to work on a site, you fill in 3 forms giving the 3 digit number, and that is it.

Well, in the Dome, they don't check whether the number is valid or not. You could and many do, just make up a 7 digit number. As long as you use the same number on all the forms, you won't be found out.

This makes the scheme pointless. What is worse is that most construction sites in London seem to work the same way. So the labour in the construction industry could well be untrained and unskilled, but worse still dangerous.

not all building companies work this way, some do check the numbers given, and obviously reject those without the valid paper work. The problem is of course that then they have to pay more for their workforce, as they can't rely on cheap foreign workers with no paper work.

It seems that there are a lot of Eastern Europeans working in construction in London at the moment and they are pricing many of the local workforce out of a job. Fine as far as it goes, but they are not just from the EU. They are also from places like Russia or Albania and clearly have no intrinsic right to work here. They can get away with it because no one bothers to check their paper work.

Update 20:50

I now understand that there are frequent raids by immigration officers at Greenwich station, in fact on average twice a month once every two months! (sorry for the original inaccuracy)

I wonder if it has ever occurred to the immigration officers to wonder where these people are going, after all there are not that many new and large employers in the area.

The plot thickens. I wonder if any one has told Philip Anschutz yet? I know his people know!


Anonymous said...

Why don't you pop in and ask, it would be really interesting to find out the answer.

Unknown said...

There must be an enforcement agency for this sort of thing. Maybe the Inland Revenue would be interested? I know a lot of building subcontractors (at the level where they are basically casual labour) are on an IR scheme where they pay tax upfront at a rate of 18% and are then self-assessed at the end of the tax year.

If you have reason to suspect they are faking the safety paperwork it stands to reason they are likely to be dodging tax and I suspect the authorities will be more eager to chase lost tax than bad safety.

I would suggest giving the HMRC a call, or three and pester them to find out what they have done. You could always pop in Mark Thomas-style and do some enforcement yourself, as ellee suggests. This might embarrass the HSE in putting some of their meagre resources on the case too.

CityUnslicker said...

Good story, one to follow-up. Also what are they going to do about all the polluted land under the dome?

Benedict White said...

Timothy I am not sure what the enforcement plan is. In principle it is a health and safety matter and so the IR won't care if they get their money.

CityUnslicker Many thanks, and no I don't know what they are going to do about the dirt under the dome!