A DEVON MP has called for an investigation of working
practices and standards at a giant energy development after
safety complaints from electricians.
Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for West Devon, said three of
his constituents, who work at the Langage Power Station, near
Plymouth, have approached him with concerns over foreign
workers' technical skills, especially surrounding health and
He said around half the workers employed at the Centrica
energy project are foreign and often there is a language
Last month hundreds of workers went on strike outside the
site after 16 were let off without warning.
Mr Streeter says workers were also on strike because of the
issue of health and safety among colleagues.
But Alstom, the contractor responsible for the development,
insists working practices and standards are uniformly high
throughout the workforce.
Mr Streeter said: "Three people have approached me. All are
electrical contractors and all are concerned about people
working alongside them who don't have the same technical
skills, particularly in health and safety.
"This was part of the problem which caused the strike and
yet it hasn't been rectified."
Mr Streeter has written to Centrica, the energy firm which
owns the site, calling for an "immediate inquiry" into the
technical competency and health and safety awareness of foreign
workers. Mr Streeter has also contacted both the project
manager at the power station and the Government minister
responsible, expressing his concerns.
He said: "I am told that many (of the foreign workers) are
ignorant of health and safety requirements and have not
obtained the basic level of competency that British workers
have to achieve."
Energy firm Centrica has recruited Alstom as it main
contractor for the work. Alstom employs around 1,000 tradesmen
at the Langage energy centre site in Plymstock, near
Alstom spokesman Gert Overgaard denied there were any
differences in technical ability or health and safety knowledge
between British and foreign workers.
He said: "We are an international company which works on
huge projects around the world. On every project we adopt the
rules of the company we are working in – in this case the
"We make sure the people we employ are qualified and we have
our own internal reviews as well. We also rely on
subcontractors who supply us with people."
Mr Overgaard said Alstom always employs people from many
different countries so there is always a language issue. But he
said that all health and safety talks are done in different
groups for people of different languages.
He said: "Our safety instructions and signals are done in
all the different languages. This does not cause any problems
Mr Overgaard said only 10 of the electrical workers employed
by Alstom at the Langage Power Station site were foreign –
compared with 150 British electricians.
Work on the £400 million project began in autumn 2006.
Despite strike disruptions, the energy firm has confirmed it
is still on track to complete the power station next
Centrica spokesman Rhys Jones said: "I am aware of the
letter sent to us by the MP yesterday.
"I will be happy to meet with him and discuss any specific
"But Alstom in its role as the main engineering procurement
contractor will have to check on the qualifications of the
workforce and the standard of work being done on the site.
"Regular quality assurance procedures are being done to
ensure that things are being done to the highest