Socialist Worker

Construction protest planned for London

Issue No. 2186

The GMB and Unite unions are planning a protest demonstration in London on 3 February.

This follows the news that Italian construction workers at the Staythorpe power station project were underpaid by over £1,000 a month.

Yet again, subcontracting scams have been used to undercut wages.

The extent of underpayment was revealed after a union audit of pay rates at Staythorpe.

CMN, the Italian sub-contractor at Staythorpe, has said it is to bring its workers to the appropriate pay grade and to make back-payments to correct the shortfall.

This time construction bosses have blinked.

But at the time of last year’s strikes, Alstom the main contractor at Staythorpe, and Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, denied that oversea workers were being paid less at Staythorpe. So the protest is focused on them.

The unofficial strikes in construction last year showed where the strength in the industry lie.

But the use of subcontractors also means there are constant attempts to set worker against worker.

That’s why any demand framed in terms of “putting British workers first” inevitably paints another set of workers – “foreign workers” – as the problem. This is a dead end.

Industrial action can win decent conditions and one rate for the job for all workers—no matter where they are from.


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Tue 26 Jan 2010, 19:23 GMT
Issue No. 2186
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