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Company sends Polish workers home at nuclear construction site of Flamanville

(29 June 2011) The French nuclear power company EDF is building a new power station in Flamanville, France. It has contracted the giant French construction company Bouygues to carry these works out. Bouygues in its turn employs sub-contractors. It uses the firm Atlanco based in Ireland and registered in Cyprus. This company in turn hired Polish workers. It turns out that the company has not paid social security contributions and that the workers have no coverage for work place accidents. Bouygues has subsequently suspended the relations with Atlanco with the result that around 100 Polish workers have been sent back to Poland. These workers now find themselves without job and unemployment benefits.

The problem is related to the extensive use of subcontractors. There are over 3400 workers on the site. One third of these are foreign workers. One third are temporary workers. In January 2011 a worked died, and another one in June. The French nuclear safety authority and a labour inspector have explored the reporting of work place accidents by the companies (around 100). The authority says that the companies have consistently underreported. Responsible for the overall reporting is Bouygues. The company blames the workers for not declaring the workplace accidents. The unions and now also the authority point out that workers are under pressure not to report the accidents. EPSU affiliate CGT-FNME and other unions have been strongly involved and are working with the Polish workers to ensure they get their salaries and other benefits.

The problems related to the use of subcontractors in the nuclear industry was the main topic of the conference organized by CGT-FNME. EPSU is also demanding that subcontractors are covered by the health and safety protection offered to workers in the nuclear industry. The European Parliament has adopted amendments in this regard.

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