Socialist Worker

No to subcontracting

Issue No. 2187

The battle over jobs in construction is taking to the streets of London this week.

Construction workers in the GMB and Unite unions are set to protest on Wednesday over the continued scandalous use of subcontracting to undercut wages and conditions.

The protest was sparked by the discovery, through a union audit, that Italian workers at the Staythorpe power station project were underpaid by over £1,000 a month.

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.

The main contractor on the Staythorpe site is Alstom.

During last year’s unofficial construction strikes, Alstom and Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, denied that overseas workers were being paid less.

But subcontracting has been used to undercut wages yet again.

It also means there are constant attempts to set worker against worker.

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.

The protest demonstration is a step forward.

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

This time construction bosses have blinked.

There is a chance to win decent conditions and one rate for the job for all workers—no matter where they are from.

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Tue 2 Feb 2010, 19:19 GMT
Issue No. 2187
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