Site Visit Highlights

Our London delegates have toured job sites all over the city over the past few days. We wanted to take time to highlight some of them. Thank you to the contractors and union partners for supporting our mission of elevating women in the construction trades.

Our objectives for these site visits were to visit, tour, and receive an overview of working arrangements; meet with women construction workers; meet with company representatives to discuss challenges in recruiting women into construction; hear about company initiatives to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion; and to have discussions around gender equality and climate change in construction.

Battersea Power Station No. 1

At its peak, the Battersea Power Station was supplying a fifth of Londons electricity. It is being redeveloped and will open to the public in September 2022. It will become one of Londons largest office, retail, leisure and cultural centers for about 25,000 people.

We met with Declan Murphy, a carpenter and union activist who represents Batersea trades workers in grievance and disciplinary hearings, and monitors safety on the site. It was an informative and exciting tour.

Mace Dragados/ HS2 Euston

HS2 is a new high-speed railway linking up London, the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland, serving over 25 stations, including eight of Britains 10 largest cities and connecting around 30 million people. Around 3000 people will be working on the site at the height of its construction.

We looked at three different areas of their massive 10 year transportation infastructure project. They have already set up a womens network for those working in all areas of the project from trades workers up to management. Our delegates were impressed to see an innovative and progressive hard hat sticker system. The stickers meant you took an LGBTQ ally training, there is a sticker delineating you are a FIR (Fairness Inclusion and Respect) Ambassador, and mental health first aider and mental health ally.

Lendlease/Bishopgate

This is a 52 story office building in the center of London. We had the pleasure of hearing what it’s really been like to work at Bishopsgate from Maddie, a current student and Assistant Construction Manager for the site; Emma, a Construction Management Engineer and leader for the project; Beth, a Commercial Manager and Second-Year Grad Student; and Callen, an electrical contractor with TClarke and former apprentice. We shared similar experiences being a strong women in a mostly male dominated field.

Canary Wharf

Canary wharf is a huge complex with various buildings at different stages of completion from piling and ground work for new construction. Fit-outs of new hotel shell and core offices and final fit-out of residential and retail outlets.

This is a union project and our group met with Trevor Simpson from Unite the Union. He is a long standing unite activist and experienced convenor. He also represents the construction sector on Unites Executive Council.

Our delegates met with union sisters from various sites across London who are working to start their own womens committee for construction workers.

Skanska/ Blosom Street Development

Skanksa led us in a tour of their Blossom street development. The space is intended for new offices and retail. We saw how they are blending new and old by refurbishing some space while building a more modern structure. We spoke with construction manager Sophie Baker and engineer Leonora Pilakoutas who led our tour. They spoke about seeing a change in construction recently as more women join the trades. We met a woman who works as a roofer alongside her father and brother.

We also met Terry, a representative of the London Building Workers Branch. His role is to provide support on site for construction workers. Lastly, we had a Q and A session with Graham Mercer, the project director for the development. He spoke very highly about Skanska for being an inclusive work environment and noted our ideas about how to implement more strategies to retain more women workers.

About cklewick

Cassandra Klewicki is a Union Carpenter out of UBC local 290 and a co-founder at Tradeswomen Building Bridges. She is a graduate student at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.
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