Socialist Worker

Electricians battle building bosses over pay and the right to strike

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2290

A court decision over Balfour Beatty’s challenge to the Unite union’s ballot for strike action was due on Thursday of this week.

Balfour Beatty is desperate to win—and stop an official strike by electricians.

The company is one of a group of contractors that have set up a set of terms, conditions and pay in opposition to the existing national agreement.

It is called the Besna agreement.

The latest Besna Newsletter issued by Balfour Beatty says, “The ballot could be extremely damaging to our business across the country.”

Twice now electricians have told Balfour exactly what they think of plans to slash pay and deskill the trade—by voting for strikes.

And both times the firm has threatened Unite with legal action. This time the union did the right thing and stood firm.

The anti-union laws mean that the union has to organise its data to a level of accuracy that is virtually impossible in an industry like construction.

If the judge rules in the union’s favour then the official strike at Balfour Beatty will need to be called quickly—and will need to be backed up with unofficial strikes that hit other companies.

If the judge rules for the bosses there needs to be unofficial action.

The dispute must not be decided by the anti-union laws and unelected judges.

A strike committee, made up of Balfour Beatty stewards, was elected last week.

If the official strike begins there will be a programme of rolling one week strikes.

Rank and file workers have held protests, site occupations and marches.

They have been targeting the clients as well.

That’s why there’s a national day of action this Wednesday.

Sites at Grangemouth in Scotland, Sellafield in Cumbria, Conoco sites at Immingham and Teesside, and Ratcliffe in Nottinghamshire are all set to have protests.

In London electricians are due to protest at the Electrical Contractors Association dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.


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News
Tue 14 Feb 2012, 17:36 GMT
Issue No. 2290
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