SIR KEN Jackson, the right wing leader of the AEEU, has rammed through a rotten pay deal. Electricians in the construction industry voted to accept a pay offer by 3,324 votes to 2,636. Jackson claimed that electricians would get a 30 percent pay rise. But because they will lose overtime payments and travelling expenses many electricians will in fact be worse off.
AEEU branches across Britain are condemning the vote. One Jubilee Line shop steward told Socialist Worker, 'About 20 percent of electricians on our job did not receive a ballot paper, and stewards at the Royal Opera House say that 30 electricians did not get a vote. The union has 40,000 electricians, so why were only 18,000 balloted?'
Announcing the result of the deal, Ken Jackson said, 'This is ballot box democracy and I expect people will abide by the result.' Jackson is the same man who is refusing to allow his London members the right to vote in the selection of the Labour candidate for London mayor.
The ballot result is a setback for rank and file electricians who organised two brilliant unofficial strikes against the deal. The second strike involved around 8,000 electricians. The result exposes the absurdities of postal ballots. More electricians took part in the unofficial strikes than voted in the election. Many of the major construction sites in London are about to finish in the next few months. Electricians involved in the unofficial action will move on to new sites. The key task facing electricians is to keep in place the network of activists that coordinated the action.