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MP seeks power station inquiry

By This is Devon  |  Posted: September 03, 2008

Langage

Langage

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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

safety.

He said around half the workers employed at the Centrica

energy project are foreign and often there is a language

barrier.

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

Plymouth.

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

UK.

"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

for us."

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

spring.

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

questions.

"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

standards."

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  • Profile image for This is Devon
    cpry, Rugby  |  September 08 2008, 8:59AM

    The question is: How many H&S Managers in Alstom know about this and how many have resigned from July - August 2008 in CH and GB

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