HS2 and TUC sign framework agreement boosting skills and apprenticeships

HS2 Ltd and the TUC have agreed a framework to maximise the economic and labour benefits of the UK’s new north-south high speed rail line.

The agreement demonstrates a commitment from HS2 Ltd to work together with the trade union movement to lead a safe, diverse and inclusive workforce with a strong voice.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and many of its member unions support the case for HS2, recognising it as a crucial investment in the country’s economy that at the peak of construction will create a 25,000-strong newly skilled workforce and up to 2,000 apprenticeships.

An initial framework agreement sets out how the partners will discuss issues concerning the employment, development, diversity and inclusion of people working throughout the project’s supply chain.

It also provides a platform for future work package agreements to be to be agreed directly between the relevant contractors and unions with support from HS2 Ltd and the TUC.

Simon Kirby, HS2 Ltd Chief Executive, and Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, signed the agreement this week at HS2 Ltd’s community hub in Euston.

Under the agreement, a committee will be formed that will be chaired by Mr Kirby and also include Ms O’Grady and representatives from unions RMT, UNITE, ASLEF, GMB, TSSA and UCATT. The committee is expected to meet four times a year during the initial phase of the project and twice a year thereafter.

Simon Kirby said:

Our mission is to be a high-performing, innovative organisation that delivers value for money by applying the best in worldwide design and construction techniques. 

To accomplish this mission we need to lead a safe, valued and effective workforce. This fundamental agreement underlines our responsibility as a direct employer as well as a commitment to the wider workforce that will deliver HS2 across our supply chain. 

I look forward to working with the TUC and their colleagues to provide the very best standards in areas such as safety and wellbeing, diversity and development."

Frances O’Grady said:

HS2 is a massive opportunity for workers in the construction and rail sectors. We look forward to working with HS2 and our member unions to ensure that equality, safety and respect are at the heart of the project.

HS2 is key for creating jobs, driving economic growth, and narrowing the north-south divide. It’s a much-needed investment boost in our railways. 

This agreement commits all those delivering HS2 to maximising benefits to the UK supply chain, crucial at a time when we are discussing the future of the UK steel industry."

Liz Rees, unionlearn Director, added:

This is just the sort of framework agreement between unions and employers in construction that unionlearn has been calling for. It will result in the high quality apprenticeships and improved skills and training. 

It is good for the economy, good for skills and good for workers."

Read the initial framework agreement between HS2 Ltd and the TUC.