Sunday, 11 December 2011
7th December was supposed to be the 1st day of action in the electricians dispute following the magnificent ballot result of 81% in favour of industrial action at Balfour Beatty [BBES].
Shamefully, Unite the union capitulated and have decided to re-ballot after the threat of an injunction by BBES. It was claimed by BBES that 25 office workers (Unite members) were not balloted. This small number wouldn't have made any difference to the result. The result of the new ballot will not now be known until 6th January.
But it's not only the Arab Spring that knows how to use facebook, twitter and text messaging. The rank n file rose to the occasion on 7th December. It was the biggest nationally coordinated unofficial strike seen in any industry for many years. Thousands of workers were involved. There were protests and picketlines at a number of BB sites in Scotland, Grangemouth, Glasgow, Wales, Cardiff, Humberside, Manchester, Liverpool and London, where there were running battles with the police.
A 500 strong picket was put on at Blackfriars, where Bob Crow spoke as well as many others from trade union reps to John McDonnel MP and members of Unite EC. A protest was also held at BBES HQ and a protest at Grattes site, both in Victoria, at which some bright spark set off fire alarms stopping production for 2 hours as the workers refused to go back in through our spontaneous picket-line. A meeting held outside with site workers gave them the arguments to join us in the dispute so maybe they will next time.
Meanwhile in Scotland, at Camblasang fire station site offices were occupied and a protest took place at BBES HQ Grangemouth. Also steeping up to the plate, sparks and supporters were out in force support in Liverpool, Teeside, Hull, Cardiff who all had protests and pickets on large sites.
Manchester protested outside the town hall and protestors got into the Labour council meeting, demanding that Laing O'Rourke and NG Bailey are removed from the projects as they are blacklisters. Labour MPs have agreed to meet ‘Rank and File committee’ members to discuss this soon.
The whole day was a brilliant success and was rounded off with a picket on Blackfriars nightshift where no sparks worked there at all that day and there was support from scaffolders and cable pullers who refused to cross the picket lines. This all shows the enormous power and potential of the ‘Rank and File’ when they pull together. This dispute may go on for many months yet as the rogue 7 dig their heels in.
We must continue the weekly protests, maintain the numbers and push Unite to make it an official strike in construction in the New Year, though whatever happens the ‘Rank and File’ have transformed the construction sector of Unite in the last 4 months.
We should use our rank n file power and get involved in the official union machinery, putting motions through our branches to make it union policy. Get elected onto sector committees and JIB bodies and so on. Not to do this would be a mistake.
We must continue to fight the blacklist and expose any union collusion that Unite would like to brush this under the carpet. There are 100s of blacklisted sparks, experienced stewards who cannot get work in construction. Unite should challenge employers who are still blacklisting, with site workers demanding these workers to get onto sites.
We mustn't give a penny of our wages to the bosses. We have lost enough over the last 10 years and enough is enough. No cuts, no changes to JIB agreement and no sell outs!
The NAIECI agreement is also under attack, This is another area to be organised by the ‘Rank and File’ as JIB workers can assist each other. Make no mistake if the sparks and pipefitters agreements are smashed other trades will be targeted next.
‘Rank and file’ committees are springing up all over the country, which is great. Meetings are being held weekly, Cardiff last Saturday, Liverpool met last Thursday and Scotland had theirs yesterday, and many more besides; keeping the pressure on the officials.
Members are making it clear they are disgusted at Unite's decision to re-ballot and the ACAS saga. Bernard McAulay has announced that Unite are to hold talks with ACAS over BESNA on 15th December. What’s that all about? It’s not like we’ve been on strike for months [or at all!]. Hope there’s no deals done behind the members backs. “Bernard, there’s nothing to talk about”! Typical of Unite, it makes you wonder if they are planning a compromise and come up with “we got you £14 across the board”!
Come on [Bernard] McAuley, listen to your members, liven up and call a construction wide strike for the New Year. Close every site. You’ve said it at various meetings, “walkouts are the only way to win this dispute”. Well put your money where your mouth is, ‘moving forward’ as you like to keep saying. So ‘One out, all out’! And NO SELL OUT!!
In a further development, Len Mcluskey has agreed to meet the ‘cancerous’ [Quote, Bernard McAuley] Rank and File national committee in Holborn on 4th January. This is an opportunity to put our views to the General secretary. We will be looking to take people from across the regions to this meeting.
Any protests demos planned for next week please let us know. A Merry Xmas to all from Siteworker. United we stand, divided we fall !
Stand firm: Educate: Agitate: Organise: Victory to construction workers!
Thanks to all the different political groups involved and Unite members, and other trade unionists and MPs for your support.
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Jerry Hicks was the 2010 grass-roots candidate for the General Secretary of super-union ‘Unite’. Jerry came second with 52,527 votes campaigning on a shoestring budget arguing for a return to rank and file control of the union.
- ▼ December (5)