More than 100 locked out workers have won a great victory after protesting at a building site at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel terminal being built near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.
Some 250 workers, members of the GMB and Amicus unions, were sacked after objecting to the way asbestos was removed from the building site.
Welders, steel erectors and labourers employed by Chicago Bridge and Iron (CB&I) at the South Hook LNG terminal struck from 11 May. When they attempted to return to work they were locked out.
On Tuesday the GMB announced that, “A mass meeting of locked out GMB members, held this morning outside the site in Milford Haven, voted to accept an agreement offering the immediate reinstatement of the locked out workers with full continuity of service and to begin a return to work from tomorrow morning.
“GMB members who live in other parts of the country have until Monday next to return to work.”
John Philips, a GMB officer who was at the meeting and who negotiated the agreement with the company, said, “The GMB is pleased that a return to work at South Hook has been agreed.
“GMB has secured its primary objective which was full reinstatement with full continuity of service for all those locked out on the site without exception.
“The agreement means that between tomorrow morning and Monday of next week full normal working will resume at South Hook on this vital LNG project.”
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny had earlier issued a statement which said, “The GMB deplores the decision of the employer of our members constructing the new LNG storage tanks at South Hook Milford Haven to lock them out following a decision to return to work after an unofficial dispute regarding health and safety issues arising from the presence of asbestos on the site.
“I can confirm that GMB is fully supporting our locked out members.
“We will do everything in our power to secure an end to the lock out and a return to normal working.”
The victory at the site is a tribute to the fighting spirit of the workers involved who refused to be intimidated by the employer and were determined to stand up for their right to work.
They were right to take action when they felt their safety was threatened and were right to press for official support after they were sacked.
Their resilience is an example of what can be won when a serious fight is put up by rank and file workers against attacks by construction employers.
Messages of support can be sent to South Hook workers, GMB, Williamson House, 17 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TB