Socialist Worker

Don’t let legal threats stop national construction strike

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2161

More than 2,000 engineering construction workers in the Unite and GMB unions at seven petrochemical plants and power stations are to be balloted for an official strike over jobs.

The ballot follows months of unofficial action across the country. It starts on 11 August and a strike should follow in early September.

The vote was to be industry-wide but the unions retreated after threats of legal action over who could be balloted. We need the maximum “yes” vote.

The bosses are flipping between destroying the national agreement by stealth and going on the offensive.

As long as the poisonous system of contracting and subcontracting remains, there will be constant attempts to set worker against worker.

All sites must be shut down on the day of the strike – including the Olympics site – regardless of whether they have been balloted.

The last dispute at the Lindsey Oil Refinery in Lincolnshire won through unofficial solidarity by workers at scores of sites across the country. The action went outside the official structures and against the law – and it won.

The rank and file needs to keep control.

The key activity now is building up the strength on the ground to stage a walk out and force the bosses into a decent agreement. We should not be distracted by the national meeting with the employers on 4 August – where the bosses may or not make some movement.

The seven sites to ballot are: Ineos’s Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, Shell’s Stanlow refinery in Cheshire, BP’s North Sea oil processing terminal at Grangemouth, Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria, RWE’s power stations at Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire and Aberthaw in South Wales, and Chevron’s refinery in Pembroke, west Wales.

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Tue 21 Jul 2009, 18:32 BST
Issue No. 2161
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