The unofficial all-out strike by construction workers at Cottam power station near Nottingham was continuing as Socialist Worker went to press.
Workers walked out two weeks ago after it was discovered that the sub-contractor SFL was employing Hungarian and Romanian workers at much lower pay than the British workers. Nineteen British workers were then sacked, but people have stayed out in support of them.
Hungarian workers who joined the Amicus union were then transferred to other jobs on the continent. Bernard McAuley, an Amicus union official, told Socialist Worker, “This is about the dismissal of the British workers and the exploitation of overseas ones. The company was not paying them the correct rate of pay. They were being paid at below the national minimum wage and worked very long hours.
“This is against the terms and condition agreed with employers in Britain which have been in place since 1980. The workers were sent back to Hungary or Romania if they spoke out against this. If the European Union services directive comes in, anyone from Europe will be able to set up anywhere and pay people on the rates of pay from their home country. This will destroy collective agreements in every country.
“There are 42 workers out now. The work is at a complete standstill. This is not about racism from the workers. It is about stopping people being exploited. The overseas workers had petrol charges deducted from their wages.
“These people are highly skilled and should not be treated this way. They should be paid the appropriate rate for the job in this country.
“We want to make sure every-one is reinstated and that those who have been underpaid are paid fully. They should not be paid just £224 for a month’s work.
“Workers were not prepared to stand by and see people abused. All the overseas workers who joined the union were shipped back to their home country. This is to send a message of fear to everyone.The company wouldn’t even pay for a ten-minute teabreak for the workers. Are we living in a civilised society?”
The union was meeting with management on Tuesday of this week to attempt to get the workers reinstated.