Union says housebuilder stopped investigation of complaints at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth

Construction union UCATT has staged a protest outside a flagship Berkeley Homes development in Portsmouth after the housebuilder allegedly barred union representatives from the site.

The representatives had intended to investigate complaints about safety conditions and pay.

UCATT says 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 says they were blocked from entering by managers and security officers.

About 40 union members joined the demonstration on Tuesday morning. UCATT has also written to Berkeley managing director Tony Pidgley expressing concern at the housing group’s lack of co-operation.

Jerry Swain, UCATT’s regional secretary for London and the South-east, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that companies like Berkeley Homes take such a high-and-mighty attitude towards workers and their representatives.

“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.”

It is understood that union officials want to investigate a series of complaints it has received about alleged breaches of the working time regulations on site, specifically concerning holiday pay, and health and safety conditions.

Berkeley Homes declined to comment.