ELECTRICIANS who were sacked for taking unofficial action were right to strike, an employment tribunal said last week. The ruling is a boost for the 250 electricians who worked for Britain’s biggest electrical contractor, Balfour Kilpatrick, on the Pfizer site in Kent. They struck for seven and a half weeks over health and safety in April last year.
They had asked the bosses to provide them with dry boots, and an area to dry off and change their clothing after a torrential downpour. When the management refused, they held a sit-in. They were then sacked for taking unofficial action.
The workers, members of the AEEU union and the EPIU, a union now affiliated to the TGWU, held out on the picket line for nearly two months. Now 81 of them who took their case to an employment tribunal have won. They are in line for substantial compensation.
One of the electricians said, ‘We feel absolutely vindicated- all those guys who stood on the picket line.’ ‘Some of the men have not worked since because of the dispute. There was obvious blacklisting,’ said Julia Mason, one of the activists around the strike. ‘Two stewards, Rab Campbell and James Thomson, were out of work for the majority of last year. But this result is absolutely brilliant.’ James and Julia asked for a message of thanks to be passed on to Socialist Worker supporters who gave them solidarity during the dispute: ‘We want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us. They produced thousands of leaflets and came to the picket lines. They were really brilliant.’
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle