Socialist Worker

EDF energy workers show they have the power to take on the bosses

Issue No. 2409

EDF workers on the picket line in Camden, central London

EDF workers on the picket line in Camden, central London (Pic: Emma Davis)


Meter readers began picketing at energy giant EDF’s building in Bexley Heath, south east London, this morning, Thursday, as the Unite union stepped up selective action.

The 20 workers join another 12 who have been on strike at EDF’s site in Camden, central London, for over a week. There have also been three one-day strikes involving 500 workers at sites across London and the South East and South West of England.

Workers are angry that bosses have broken agreements over pay. They want a 2.5 percent pay rise, as well as demands relating to regional parity.

A striker in Bexley Heath said, “They just want to cut our money while making us do more work. We’re just a number to them. We can’t afford to back down.”

Robbing

It’s not lost on the workers that the same company ripping them off through pay is also ripping customers off with its eye-watering energy prices. Some pickets carried placards saying “EDF Energy, robbing you, robbing us.”

EDF has divided its workforce into sections to keep workers in power plants away from disputes involving other workers. But the growing queue of vans outside the Camden site shows the impact that meter readers and others can have. Though the strike there is small, other workers—including members of the GMB union—have been refusing to cross the picket line.

“It’s going well, as you can see,” Unite rep Tony Ryan told Socialist Worker. “We’re still picketing here and people aren’t crossing the picket line. And today it’s escalating beyond Camden.”

Selective action is a strategy of bringing sections of the workforce out while others take action short of a strike. But one of the workers’ greatest strengths is their solidarity.

EDF: robbing us all

EDF: robbing us all


One striker, whose department could be called to return to a work-to-rule, said emphatically, “I won’t cross a picket line. Management can try and drag me across, but there’s absolutely no chance I’ll do it.”

Tactic

Bosses are resorting to what are effectively lockout tactics to break this solidarity.

The workers refusing to cross the picket line at the Camden depot haven’t been called on to strike and could work out of any depot. But EDF is refusing to pay them unless they cross the picket line to pick up paperwork in Camden.

One told Socialist Worker, “Management could have given me my work at head office but instead they’ve chosen to leave me in limbo.

“They’ve done it on purpose, they wanted me to come to the depot so they could try and pressure us to break the strike.”

Despite lengthy talks at the Acas conciliation service on Wednesday, EDF has yet to make an offer that satisfies the workers’ demands. Unite has warned that it could escalate further if bosses don’t do better.

The workers’ resolve is strong—and if it is mobilised they can win.

Send messages of solidarity to onay.kasab@unitetheunion.org

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