Socialist Worker

Construction workers strike against racism

Issue No. 2070

Hundreds of workers building one of Wales’s biggest engineering projects went on strike last week because one of them was taunted with Nazi salutes.

Some 300 people at the coastal terminal for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline, near Milford Haven, took action in support of worker Omar Mohammed, a steel erector rigger from Cardiff.

Omar Mohammed’s colleagues stopped work at the South Hook site on Thursday of last week, with some walking off site, after claims that management repeatedly failed to act on his allegations of racial harassment.

Omar said that two workers made Nazi salutes at him, spoke to him in a mock German accent and pointed a hammer at him as if it were a gun.

“For nine days I went through the proper channels,” said 65 year old Omar Mohammed.

“We had meeting after meeting. There were two witnesses to the incident, a superintendent and an apprentice.

“The three of us have made statements but the management say we have no evidence.

“I have spent nine days trying to get justice.

“I was going to have to go off work with stress but the men downed tools and marched on the offices of CB&I [Chicago Bridge & Iron Company – the construction company overseeing the project].

“The men are totally disgusted.”

They refused to work on Friday morning until crisis talks were held.

Omar said, “I couldn’t have done it without the support of the men. The management would have brushed it under the carpet until I gave up. They have only done something because the men came out.”

One worker told Socialist Worker, “One of our mates has been racially abused.

“There have been Nazi slurs and slights made to him. He is 65 years old and he has taken this to heart. It has upset him terribly.

“We don’t know why people were doing it to him and we were banging our heads against a wall trying to get something done about it.”

GMB regional organiser Alun Rappell said, “He has put up with abuse in the past, but some of the gestures used really upset him and clearly he had the support of his workers.

“This is not about pay or any other issues. They believe an injustice has been done. Two individuals were suspended pending a full investigation.

“We decided quite clearly that the people responsible should be removed off site.

“I will be going down again next week. The incidents took place nine days ago and the member felt aggrieved that nothing seemed to be happening.”

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Tue 25 Sep 2007, 18:41 BST
Issue No. 2070
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