ELECTRICIANS IN the EPIU contracting branch are keeping up the pressure on construction bosses in the north west of England. Pickets were out in force at the Arndale site and at The Edge, both in Manchester, on Friday of last week.
“At The Edge site, contractor Carillion’s agency Skyblue is reneging on a deal we struck with them,” says branch secretary Steve Acheson.
A number of branch members want pay in lieu of notice when they were laid off by text message on a Sunday night following a fire at the site.
“So we go straight to the top, to Carillion,” says Steve. “If they don’t sort it out, we’ll picket the site and their head office too.”
At the Arndale site, an EPIU member was sacked for making a cup of tea mid-morning. Another was dismissed soon after Christmas when managers noticed him distributing the electricians’ rank and file “North West Cowboy” bulletin.
Steve says, “We’ve got talks with Balfours and Bovis next week—we’re pleased because they usually only talk to the Amicus union, not to us.”
The EPIU branch has been recruiting electricians through rapid-response demos and pickets at construction sites—Arndale, The Edge, Blackburn Hospital—in support of members in dispute.
Meanwhile, a union insider described the agreements between the Amicus union and some construction firms as “the mother of all sweetheart deals”.
“We’re using human rights legislation to keep up peaceful picketing and demonstrations,” says Steve. “Contractors exploit the fact that many electricians have less than one year of service, and sack them.”
Pickets were to be out again at the Arndale on Friday of this week, the TUC’s day of action to defend pensions.
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