Socialist Worker

Build for a national electricians’ walkout

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2287

Electricians protested in Glasgow, Manchester and London last week.

And workers at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Lincolnshire walked off their site for the second week in a row—and plan to do the same every week.

Bosses at seven firms want to scrap workers’ existing JIB national agreement and impose a new, worse one—Besna.

This would slash pay by 35 percent and bring in a new grade of semi-skilled worker.

Workers in five of the seven companies have been told to sign new contracts on much inferior pay or face the sack.

The companies are Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and NG Bailey.

Contracts

They have issued the Unite union with legal notice of their intention to dismiss, with notice, thousands of workers before re-engaging them on new contracts.

Unfortunately, Unite’s latest legal advice is to sign the contracts and include a protest letter when returning them.

Bosses had threatened to sack people if they didn’t return their contracts signed by 9 January. They backed off after hundreds of workers returned them unsigned.

As one electrician told Socialist Worker, “We had a week of confusion. Instead of building up momentum for a strike the union has now told people to sign the contracts.”

Unite is reballoting members working at Balfour Beatty for a second time.

Some 81 percent voted for strikes last November—but Unite called off the strike after bosses threatened legal action.

The ballot closes on Wednesday 1 February.

There is disquiet from electricians that promises from Unite’s leadership have so far still not translated into facts on the ground.

The new terms are set to be introduced in eight weeks.

Whenever the rank and file are in the lead, the dispute moves forward.

The momentum needs to be built for another national walkout on 9 February.


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News
Tue 24 Jan 2012, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2287
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