Crossrail troubles continue as more strikes face delayed Woolwich station with pressure on Elizabeth Line opening

 
Rebecca Smith
Construction on the £14.8bn Crossrail project is 90 per cent complete
Construction on the £14.8bn Crossrail project is 90 per cent complete (Source: Getty)

Time pressures to get the Elizabeth Line opened on time face another squeeze with further strikes planned at the delayed Woolwich station, part of the £14.8bn Crossrail project.

Unite union has strikes set for 14 and 21 February, after previous walkouts in January and last week, over a pay row between 76 electricians employed by Balfour Beatty at the Woolwich site.

Last week, the union said it was prepared to take legal action after the firm stopped paying bonuses, and is also planning a series of demonstrations across different Crossrail sites on Wednesday 14 February to coincide with the next strike action.

Read more: Crossrail trouble: Elizabeth Line faces rising cost and schedule pressures

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: "Balfour Beatty's entirely unnecessary actions will backfire and are set to cause even further delays to the multi-billion Crossrail project."

A spokesperson for the union told City A.M. that "given the incredibly low morale amongst the workforce which has greatly affected productivity and the ongoing industrial action, we currently see the delays being of weeks if not months".

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said:

We are continuing to engage with Unite and Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick’s workforce of electricians on Crossrail.

Balfour Beatty engaged fully with Unite to negotiate and agree a productivity bonus for Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick’s workforce of electricians on Crossrail. Since then, Unite demanded a significant increase in the bonus level and a completion bonus.

We are committed to resolving this dispute and to the continued progress of the project.

Earlier this month, City A.M. reported concerns at TfL that the Crossrail project faced "increasing cost and schedule pressures", with troubles from Whitechapel station works being completed later than budgeted, as well as delayed works at Woolwich station. Construction costs are £172m over budget at present, though Crossrail says it is still confident of wrapping up the project on time and on budget.

Meanwhile, Bombardier is fitting trains with signalling equipment required for operation on the Heathrow branch of the line, but progress is behind plan due to “immaturity and instability” of train software.

TfL said that delay remains the “most significant single risk” to the TfL Rail services starting between Paddington and Heathrow in May.

A Crossrail Ltd spokesperson said:

We are aware of the planned strike action by electricians employed by Balfour Beatty. We note that Balfour Beatty will continue to engage with their workforce on all related matters.

Read more: Crossrail at "worrying stage" with Elizabeth Line opening under pressure

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