Workers claim they are paying for company’s fatal error

The construction firm fined £l50,000 after the death of three men on a site in Dundee is penalising workers to help pay the bill. campaigners have claimed.

The men died in June last year when nine tonnes of concrete wall collapsed on the site of new student residences for Dundee University. Muir Construction Ltd of lnverkeithing in Fife, last month pled guilty to two charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of the three self-employed steel frxers. They were lined £150,000. one of the largest fines ever imposed by a Scottish court under the Health and Safety at Work Act. '

However the Construction Safety

Campaign (CSC). a national organisation set up to protect site workers, now claim the company are withholding payments from those who worked on the site, many of whom were self-employed or sub-contracted. They say this means they are effectively helping to pay the fine. Jonson Green, CSC‘s Scottish representative explained that sub- contracted self-employed workers on construction sites are often paid under a system of ‘retention’ whereby approximately twenty per cent of all payments due are withheld until the job is completed. This protects the company against unreliable workers who might turn up one week but not

the next.

‘Not a single person on that job got the retention at the end. The men on the job have paid the fine.’ Green claimed.

One young Dundee joiner, who did not wish to be named. hadn‘t been paid his retention since the work was finished last autumn. He said: ‘Nobody I knew got their retention money. l’m due £170 and there were nearly 60 joiners on the job. all due between £l00 and more than £200.

‘l‘m just talking about joiners, that doesn‘t include brickies, or anyone else on the site. l'm worried they might be doing this to try and claw back the money‘.

The Construction Safety Campaign say the fine is inadequate anyway and company executives should themselves have been prosecuted.

‘When they are saying they lost £l million over delays in the job. a £150,000 fine seems insignificant,‘ said Green. ‘The lines are a nonsense. Until we get people banged up in prison, nothing will change. We have to make people pay for what they are doing.‘

The families of the three men may now raise actions for damages in the Court of Session. Muir Construction Ltd said they were unable to comment until any civil proceedings had been completed. (Stephen Naysmith)

Reprieve on scaffold for theatr

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Festival theatre: The art oi scaiioldlng

Internal scaiioldlng which has blighted Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre ior three months will be removed ahead oi the Festival In the summer, according to stall.

Since 14 March, scaiiolding has been in place on all iloors oi the theatre, as a precautionary measure aiter a panel iell irom the root. Removal work has now begun, said a spokeswoman: ‘We are starting to take the scaiioldlng down, having checked all the other panels, which are line. We now need to paint over the marks Ieit on the ceiling and aim to have everything done in three to tour weeks.’

Although the iaulty panel is thought tohavebeenaone-oii,allpenelsoia similar type have been replaced. The episode was another problem tor the troubled theatre which has tailed to draw the also at crowds it needs, prompting the resignation oi theatre manager Paul lles earlier this year.

Thecostoitherepairsmaywellbe passed on to one oi the ilrms involved in returblshing the building prior to its opening. ‘They will be trying to sort out exactly what the problem was and who is responsible. There might be some kind oi claim,’ the theatre’s spokeswoman conilrmed.

She added that there have been iewer complaints drout the scaiioldlng than might have been expected, loklng ‘I think because oi thepelegreeniononthepeles people thought it was Installation art.’ (Stephen laysmlth)

Freedom message is Burns to a Crisp

When Robert Burns wrote that ‘Freedom and whisky gang thegither’, he almost certainly did not have Quentin Crisp in mind. Yet these two unlikely bediellows are to be united by the launch oi the ilrst gay Scotch whisky.

Quentin Crisp Whisky, which taxes Burns’s line as a slogan, is a 58 per cent prooi single cask malt, bottled specliically tor the gay community. The whisky, on sale irom August, has a distinctive production process ensuring each cask is dliierent.

‘Just as Quentin Crisp dared to be dliierent, so does our whisky,’ says like Bell oi the Peace And Plenty whisky company, who also plan to produce vodka, gin and spring water under the Quentin Crisp name.

Crisp, who visits Scotland this month to promote the whisky and appear at the Pride Scotland iestival in Glasgow, has lived in exile in low York since the 1900s when he tied a Britain intolerant oi his llamboyant, openly homosexual Iiiestyie.

Bell believes Burns’ lines express a liberalism and non-conicrnrisrn shared by Crisp ad the gay community: ‘lt ties in with the idea

that the gay community have had to struggle ior some measure oi independence and ireedom to express themselves and that is what Quentin has always been about. We are trying to associate the whisky with that attitude which Burns had and which people in the gay community still have to have because there is still a degree oi homophobia about.’

Edinburgh-based AIDS charity The Waverley Care Trust beneiits irom each bottle at Quentin Crisp sold, as every one comes with a tartan awareness ribbon, purchased irom the charity by the whisky company.

The big question, however, is how Burns would ieel about his immortal lines being used to promote a gay dran. Bell is certain he would have approved: ‘Burns had a sense oi humour and he certainly approved oi whisky generally. Quentin Crisp is iriends with very iamous people in the arts world and Rabble would no doubt have been part oi the low York scene. lie and Quentin would have been kindred spirits.’ (Peter Ross) The Pride Scotland march and iestival on 22 June will be used to launch a petition aimed at reionnlng the 1980

Criminal Justice Act (Scotland) and laws aiiecting the rest oi the till. Paul Dunne, spokesman tor Pride Scotland said: ‘The aim is to lobby parliament with 50,000 names calling tor the equallsation oi basic human rights for all people regardless oi their sexuality.’ A march irom Blythswood Square to Glasgow Creen will be iollowed by live music and entertainment on two stages.

Crisp: Flrunboyant

‘Bootieg’ CDs pose problem for record shops

High street record shops may have to review their policy on imports following a court case in Edinburgh over compact discs brought in from Europe.

At Edinburgh‘s Sheriff Court on 6 June, Christopher Pleasance was charged under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 with selling bootleg CDs at a record fair in the city’s Roxburghe Hotel in November 1994.

Though 300 CDs had been seized, the trial concentrated on just six - by Big Country, Deacon Blue, Dire Straits, Jamiroquai, and James (two discs).

The court heard that Pleasance believed the sale of these compact discs was legal in ltaly, where they were manufactured, and so he believed it was legal to retail them in the UK by virtue of the single European market.

Defence lawyer James Millar claimed it was legal to sell the CDs in ltaly, therefore the CDs themselves were legal. However Pleasance was found guilty on four of the six counts, with sentence deferred until 28 June.

Derek Vamells, for the BF] (British Phonographic industry), estimated that illegal discs cost the industry £24 million in I995. However, the 8?] lost face when Millar produced a CD, Red House by Jimi Hendrix, and asked if it was a bootleg. Varnelis replied that it was, but to laughter in the court, Millar produced a receipt showing the disc had been purchased from HMV Records in Princes Street.

HMV admitted later that they had stocked the disc, but it had now been withdrawn. ‘This particular disc is no longer available - the last one was sold

in our Princes Street store in Edinburgh in l995,’ a Spokesman claimed.

‘It was sold on to us and distributed by a large and reputable company. it is regrettable that sometimes these things slip through.‘

it is still not clear whether HMV and other companies will need to review their policy on stocking imports from the continent. ‘lt is hard to say because this is a one-off case,’ the HMV spokesman explained.

An added irony is that HMV record shops are owned by Thom-EMI who also own EMi Records (UK). EMl Records (UK) is a member of, and _ partly funds, the BPi, who brought the case against Pleasance. it is still possible to find'illicit italian CDs for sale in some High Street record chains. (Malcolm Stewart)

4 The List 14-27 Jun 1996