Socialist Worker

Shut the construction sites down

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2272

Protest in King’s Cross train stationhttp://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Protest in King’s Cross train stationGuy Smallman)


Electricians’ protests are growing against bosses’ attempts to slash pay by over a third.

Shouts of “The workers united will never be defeated” filled King’s Cross train station in London on Wednesday of last week.

Some 350 protesting electricians held an impromptu meeting inside the station.

Around 80 also protested in Glasgow and 60 in Liverpool.

Last week’s protests are part of a rising tide of resistance among construction workers.

Demonstrations have taken place at the Tyne Tunnel in Newcastle, Manchester’s MediaCityUK, the Edinburgh city chambers, the Glasgow Velodrome and SPIE Matthew Hall in Liverpool.

Blockaded

In London last week, workers blockaded the main entrance to the building site behind King’s 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.

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 to them. Let’s see them give the green light to industrial action.”

Unite union officials were applauded when they committed to a strike ballot to defend the JIB agreement “as soon as possible”.

But there is some impatience among 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.”

The employers are rattled., On the King’s Cross site the contractors NG Bailey issued letters, telling workers to ignore the protest and claiming that it wasn’t supported by the union.

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.”

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

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

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.” The urgenct task is to start shutting down sites, officially or unofficially.


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