Socialist Worker

Magnificent show of unity at Cottam power station

by John Shemeld
Issue No. 1990

British and Hungarian workers together on the picket line

British and Hungarian workers together on the picket line

An inspiring all-out unofficial strike is taking place at Cottam power station, near Lincoln, in protest against the exploitation of migrant workers.

Fifty construction workers, members of the GMB and Amicus unions, are striking against multinational companies undercutting wages by paying migrant workers less than British ones.

Workers and students from around the region supported the strikers outside the power station this Tuesday. There was a clear mood that the workers were standing up for everybody’s rights.

Austrian company SFL has been sub-contracted to build a de­sulphurisation plant at Cottam. SFL hired British workers under standard construction site conditions, and Hungarian workers. They were told not to discuss wages and conditions, and overtime was only allocated to the Hungarians.

But they did talk, and the Hungarians discovered they were on worse conditions than other workers.

The Hungarians started to join the GMB, but found that they were then transferred to other jobs back on the continent.

Hungarian welder Barnabas Bito paid for his own flight back to Britain last week to explain to the British workers that the Hungarians had been victimised.

Nineteen British construction workers immediately walked out. They were joined by scaffolders and laggers. This strike shows that British workers will stand up to defend their conditions – and those of migrant workers.

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Sat 4 Mar 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1990
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