Trades unions in Aberdeen have issued a series of demands as they raised concerns over “low-paid and insecure” jobs that could become available if the north-east wins support for its green freeport bid.
Aberdeen Trades Union Council has demanded that employers based at the port be subject to annual monitoring alongside a number of requirements involving trades union recognition.
The announcement comes as Aberdeen City Council has set out plans to discuss the North East of Scotland Green Freeport bid at a secret meeting today.
It is thought the UK and Scottish Governments will agree a decision on which areas of Scotland will be awarded the status by the end of the month.
Aberdeen TUC called on city councillors to “ensure that an annual audit check be carried out by the city council’s officers, involving the trade unions, to make sure that all employees get the benefits of the freeport too”.
Aberdeen TUC president Graeme Farquhar said: “A low tax zone is attractive to employers, but what about the employees?
“The cost-of-living crisis has exposed in-work poverty, where employees have jobs that don’t pay enough for them to get by.”
He added a list of demands, including:
- No “relaxation” of existing employment rights, including working time or health and safety protections.
- Adherence to industry collective bargaining agreements and guarantees against blacklisting.
- Guaranteed trade union recognition, the protection of facility time, and the right to access workplaces.
- Trade union-approved facilities for road haulage drivers using the freeport.
A spokesman for the Port of Aberdeen, a key stakeholder in the Aberdeen/Peterhead green freeport bid, pointed to a letter the consortium sent to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlining its support for “fair work principles” and commitment to paying the Scottish living wage, which is higher than the living wage set by the UK Government.
It added that “those businesses within the allocated sites” will be required to adhere to these too.
The north-east is in a fierce competition with other port consortiums in Scotland to be named as a green freeport, which also includes a share of £52 million of government funding.
Five areas have made bids to become green freeports under a scheme agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments, but only two will win.
The consortium, consisting of Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council,
Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority and the city’s airport, launched the bid in June.
The group estimates the green freeport could generate 32,000 jobs and provide an economic boost worth £8.5 billion over the next decade.
Other areas vying for a green freeport include Opportunity Cromarty Firth, the consortium leading the bid for green freeport status on the west coast.