Socialist Worker

Balfour Beatty accused of sacking electrician for trade union activity

Issue No. 2319

Masked electricians protesting against the Besna proposals at Kings Cross station in London last year (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Masked electricians protesting against the Besna proposals at Kings Cross station in London last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Construction firm Balfour Beatty has been accused of victimising an electrician at the Grangemouth power station project.

Stewart Hume, who has 16 years service at Balfour Beatty, was made redundant despite Grangemouth managers admitting to him that there is plenty of work on the site.

Balfour Beatty has a proven history of blacklisting—maintaining secret lists of trade union activists in the construction industry and refusing to hire them.

And Stewart is a leading rank and file activist in the Unite union. He was part of the successful battle earlier this year to stop Besna—an attempt by Balfour Beatty and other firms to slash electricians’ wages and rip up their terms and conditions.

“I did what was right,” said Stewart. “The threat of de-skilling our industry was something I wasn’t prepared to stand by and allow to happen.” He added that his father was electrocuted and killed on a building site 28 years ago.

Stewart says Grangemouth managers have told him the pressure to sack him came from Balfour Beatty’s human resources department. This is headed up by Gerry Harvey who has been exposed in court for using blacklists against trade unionists.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that Harvey has “form for blacklisting” and that she was “absolutely convinced” that blacklisting was still happening at the company.

Now rank and file electricians are threatening action to demand Stewart’s reinstatement. “If Balfour Beatty don’t reinstate Stewart Hume by 10 September, we’ll consider that a declaration of war,” said one activist.

“Every Balfour Beatty project in the country will be a legitimate target. The only person to blame for this situation is Gerry Harvey. If the company had an ounce of decency, it would be that blacklisting wretch they’d be sacking.”

UPDATE

On Friday afternoon Stewart heard that he was to be reinstated. He said, “I’ve only been offered four weeks’ work, but this proves that solidarity gets results. Thanks to everyone for the support. It’s been overwhelming.”

» Balfour Beatty forced to back down

» Blacklisted workers take construction firm to court


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Thu 6 Sep 2012, 14:19 BST
Issue No. 2319
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