Socialist Worker

Hundreds of electricians blockade King's Cross

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2271

Shouts of “The workers united will never be defeated' filled King’s Cross station this morning, Wednesday.

The protesting electricians held an impromptu meeting inside the station.

Some 350 workers fighting attempts to cut their wages by over a third took the demonstration. Around 80 also protested in Glasgow and 60 in Liverpool.

In London, workers blockaded the main entrance to the building site behind Kings Cross and then marched to another entrance where they blocked the road.

Bosses want to tear up terms and conditions in the Joint Industry Board (JIB) national industry agreement and impose a 35 percent pay cut.

The contractors are Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, SES and Spie Matthew Hall.

There is clear determination among the electricians to take direct action to stop them.

One electrician told Socialist Worker, “The union leaders say they are in favour of direct action. We're giving it them to them. Let’s see them give the green light to industrial action.'

At the London protest, Unite union officials were applauded when they committed to a strike ballot to defend the JIB agreement 'as soon as possible'. They did the same at a protest last Wednesday at Farringdon.

But there is some impatience from the electricians. One told Socialist Worker, “A ballot as soon as possible is a good thing. I think the officials don't quite get that ‘as soon as possible’ means now.”

Inside King’s Cross station Mick Dooley from the Ucatt union was cheered as he read from the socialist novel, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. He went on to say, “It’s not 1904 it’s 2011. With official or unofficial pickets, we need to start shutting down sites. '

Veteran of the 1972 building strikes Mike Abbott a representative of the Justice for Shrewsbury 24 Campaign. addressed the crowd. He called for a general strike.

There were banners from Camden Unison, Soas Unison, PCS Euston, Right to Work and the National Shop Stewards campaign.

Speakers from the RMT, PCS and Unite aerospace, among other unions, brought solidarity, as did Labour MP John McDonnell and Unite activist Jerry Hicks.

One company, MJN Colston, has backed off from breaking the agreement in response to the rank and file campaign.

Tom, an electrician, told Socialist Worker, 'We have shown them that we are serious. Now we need to move to winning. One company backing off is a start, but we can't slow down'

A number of speakers pointed to the upcoming public sector strikes on 30 November.

One worker told Socialist Worker, 'It's obvious we have to be out with everyone else in November – ballot or no ballot.'

Another protest has been called for Oxford Street next Wednesday.

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