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Posted on 5 April 2011 at 20:59 GMT

Saltend lock-out - Solidarity strike spreads

On Wednesday 6 April, hundreds of engineering construction workers at several sites around the country will be taking strike action in solidarity with the 400 Redhall workers locked out from BP Saltend, Hull.

Alistair Tice

Into a fourth week of being locked out, after BP/Vivergo ended Redhall's contract at the bio-ethanol plant, a mass meeting at the gates on 4 April voted unanimously to call for a national one-day strike of NAECI (national agreement - Blue Book) sites.

Pickets were sent out to several jobs around the country. On Monday, Redhall workers from Hull and Teeside were boosted by maintenance workers from Nippon-Gohsei and Interserve who work at BP Saltend refusing to cross 'protest' lines at the gates.

Their shop steward, Trevor Grewar, a Socialist Party member, gave a solidarity message of support to applause. Scaffolders and electricians on "gardening duty", ie stood down on basic pay, will refuse to cross picket lines if/when they are called back to work.

Last week, Vivergo, 40% owned by BP, sent a letter to 500 workers at Saltend saying that they are not "tearing up the national agreement" and it is not a "lock-out".

The letter is dated 1 April but this is no April Fools joke!

They have stated that they intend to split the Redhall contract up between four contracting companies, thus fragmenting the contract and putting TUPE (transfer of employment) rights into doubt, and have given no undertaking to take back the locked out workers.

Redhall has offered 3,300 a worker but only on condition that they do not protest any longer. The three grand is monies owed, and not even all of that, which has already been rejected at a mass meeting.

The GMB and Unite trade unions have both made the lock-out official. And a hardship fund has been set up with levies collected at many sites.

But rightly the Redhall workers have demanded that industrial action be escalated.

By this lock-out, BP/Vivergo/Redhall have torn up the Blue Book. If they get away with it at Saltend, then employers elsewhere will try the same thing.

This means that this lock-out is a threat to all construction workers and pressure must be brought to bear on all the industry employers.

As lock-out committee member Keith Gibson said after Monday's vote to spread the strike: "The only way work will restart on that project is if all Redhall workers are taken back.

"If a one-day strike doesn't shift the bosses, then we will call for the whole industry to shut down."

Please send donations to the lockout hardship fund to:

Treasurer Mr Steve Cressey, 1 Manby Road, Scunthorpe, DN17 2LA (cheques payable to Saltend Hardship Fund).

Messages of support and requests for speakers to:

Keith Gibson: 07743135183 or geminis@geminis.karoo.co.uk

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