Socialist Worker

Construction workers unite for mass stay-aways

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2283

Protesters turn away workers going into Longannet power station in Fife (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Protesters turn away workers going into Longannet power station in Fife (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Protests on construction sites across Britain again turned into mass stay-aways today (Wednesday).

Groups of construction workers have united to walk off the job over attacks on their pay, terms and conditions.

At the ConocoPhillips site in Immingham there were some 120 pickets at the main gate. Around 100 Balfour Beatty electricians who work on the site held a meeting and decided to join the picket.

And 20 scaffolders from BIS refused to cross the picket line and joined protest in solidarity.

A short mass meeting of all three groups drove home the need to fight bosses and stick together in defence of both the NAECI and JIB national wage agreements.

As part of a day of action in engineering, construction workers stayed away from work or protested at a number of sites around the country.

These included Sellafield in Cumbria, Stanlow and Octel at Ellesmere Port, Ineos and TPS at Runcorn in Cheshire, Ineos in Teesside, West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Lincolnshire, Saltend in east Yorkshire, Nippon and Vivergo sites in Hull, Sizewell in Suffolk, Hinckley in Somerset, Northwich gas storage, and Pembroke in Wales.


Electricians also protested around the country. At the John Moore University in Liverpool, the SPIE Matthew Hall site saw no electricians go in and a protest on the gate.

In Cardiff, around 30 protested and about 20 workers came off the Llandough hospital site.

In Scotland there was a protest at Longannet power station that saw lorries and deliveries turned away and huge tailbacks along the road. The same happened at the Tullis Russell site in Markinch, Glenrothes.

In London, workers assembled at the NG Bailey site at Kings Cross. Despite opposition by the police, workers marched to the Network Rail headquarters in Euston.

One electrician said, “We have protested at Farringdon, Blackfriars, and Kings Cross against the companies attacking us. So now we are protesting against the client that are hiring them, Network Rail.”

In the electricians dispute, the companies who are trying to smash the Besna agreement have called in conciliation service Acas for talks with Unite, set for tomorrow (Thursday).

Many workers are wary of the idea of holding Acas talks over the tearing up of the national agreement.

Workers are building for a huge day of action at the beginning of January to again shut down the sites across the country.

Steve Murphy has been elected general secretary of construction union Ucatt.

Murphy is currently the union’s Yorkshire regional secretary. He received 5,475 votes compared to 3,529 for Jerry Swain, the London and south east regional secretary.

Mick Dooley the construction activist was barred from standing in the election.

Mick stood against the previous general secretary, Alan Ritchie, in 2009 and exposed the voting irregularities that led to the election being annulled by the certification officer.

The certification officer confirms that Mick has this week lodged a formal complaint into the conduct of the current general secretary election.

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