Union takes complaints over ‘sordid’ self-employment at Olympics to Treasury and Revenue

The clash between unions and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) over self-employed workers on the 2012 Olympics heated up this week as Ucatt took its concerns to the Treasury and Inland Revenue.

Alan Ritchie, Ucatt’s general secretary, has written to Jane Kennedy, the Treasury’s financial secretary, and Paul Gray, the chairman of HM Revenue & Customs, asking what measures they are taking to prevent illegal self-employment.

In the letter Ritchie complains of the “flagrant abuse of the Construction Industry Scheme”, which he says is creating “large-scale tax evasion”.

The unions have been in talks with the ODA over the Olympics employment model for several months.

Ritchie said: “Talks between the ODA and trade unions on an agreement about the employment model for the Olympics have been deadlocked for some time, because it has insisted that self-employed workers can be hired on the project.”

Ritchie said the ODA’s refusal to guarantee 100% direct employment could turn the Games into a “sordid, back street operation”.

The ODA denied that talks with the unions were deadlocked. A spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring high standards of employment and are currently in positive negotiations with construction unions to finalise a memorandum of agreement. It is our intention to include in it an agreement on maximising direct employment.”

The letter was sent as it emerged that Barry Camfield, the union representative on the ODA board, is to retire as assistant general secretary of the T&G section of Unite, the union formed by the merger between the T&G and Amicus. Camfield, who is on the ODA board, has been central to talks on direct employment.

Although Camfield will no longer work for the union he will stay on the ODA board. His contract has a year to run and it is not clear whether he will remain when it expires.

Ritchie and Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail and Maritime Transport union, are thought to be frontrunners to replace Camfield.