SOME 1,700 workers have thrown down the gauntlet to a leading multinational after voting overwhelmingly for strike action. Workers at Scottish Power and Manweb were set to hold their first two-day strike next week.
Unfortunately the union leaders recommended that strikes are called off after the bosses asked for talks. Scottish Power is desperate to avoid a strike. The workers connect new customers, do repairs and build substations. Their action could hit Scottish Power's operation across Scotland, North Wales and the north west of England.
As one steward said, 'We deal with high voltage power cables and, like the railways, it's a job where safety should come before profit.' The workers are furious that the company wants to transfer a section of the workers to a new company. This would be a joint venture with the giant building firm McAlpine.
Every time Scottish Power has parcelled off sections of its business it has meant worse pay and conditions for workers, and a worse service for customers. The company wants to clear the way for redundancies by getting rid of an agreement where every worker that leaves is replaced by another.
The power workers, members of the AEEU and GMB unions, voted for strike action by a majority of 838 to 333.
The turnout was also high, at around 80 percent. One of the stewards said, 'This is a great result. We campaigned hard for this with two mass meetings, plus leaflets, posters and meetings in the depots. 'Management put out loads of propaganda encouraging us to vote no. They also tried to intimidate individuals into not voting to get the turnout down. Management wants to create this company so that they can cut wages and conditions, and make bigger profits. This is mad. Although not all of us will be transferred, we know if we don't stand together we will be next. It's about solidarity.'
That spirit has forced Scottish Power onto the defence. The workers shouldn't settle for anything less than a victory.