Around 200 construction workers protested in central London on Wednesday morning against pay cuts of up to 35 percent.
Eight major construction firms have provoked fury across the sector by declaring they will break from national agreements. They plan to introduce new, lower-paid skill grades for electricians and pipefitters.
James, a young electrician who works on the site, said “If anything we should get a pay rise. All the prices are going up. How can we get a start in life?”
“My Dad was an electrician. He’d be turning in his grave if he knew what was going on,” Brian, who works at the nearby Euston site, told Socialist Worker.
“They make us go back to college every year to upgrade our skills—but then they want to take our money away.”
The pay cut is planned in March of next year, and includes workers on such high-profile projects as the redevelopment of Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Thameslink and Crossrail and new nuclear plants.
The Unite union has condemned the cuts, and rank-and-file activists are already organising a response. Some 500 workers from London and the South Coast packed into Conway Hall in Central London on 13 August to elect a rank-and-file committee and call for the union to ballot for industrial action.
Days later 200 people came to a meeting of the London Construction Unite branch and voted to call Wednesday’s protest at the Blackfriars station construction site—“the first of many”.
Protests were also due to take place in Manchester, and rank-and-file meetings are planned in other regions including Wales and north east England.
The next protest will be at the Westfield construction site in Stratford, east London at 6.30am on Wednesday 31 August