Portsmouth scheme is targeted after union safety reps were allegedly barred from accessing site

Forty members of construction union UCATT staged a protest outside a flagship Berkeley Homes development in Portsmouth this morning after union representatives were allegedly barred from accessing the site to investigate complaints about safety conditions and pay.

UCATT claims that it has received a number of complaints about conditions on the Gunwharf Quays development, a multi-phased housing, retail and leisure scheme that forms the centrepiece of the regeneration of Portsmouth waterfront.

The union sent two officials to the site last month to investigate complaints, but claims they were blocked from entering by security and management.

Jerry Swain, UCATT London South East regional secretary, said: "I am not sure what Berkeley Homes has to hide or fear from UCATT. The whole of the construction industry should be seeking to set the highest possible standards in respect of safety and also ensuring that contractors on their sites comply with the law.”

A Berkeley Homes spokesperson said: "Berkeley Homes had no direct approach from UCATT regarding this action and so we were not aware of their specific concerns or objectives. However Berkeley Homes has very clear policies relating to the standards of health and safety procedures and general working practices we expect from all our contractors. These are stringently policed and enforced by our managers both at Gunwharf Quays and across all our sites."

"No-one has been barred from the site. The visit was made on 'spec' without prior notice. Had the officials gone through the proper process and raised with us any legitimate concerns about health and safety we would, of course, have investigated. As stated the company has clear policies on health and safety standards and the safety of our contractors and their employees is of prime importance."