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Posted on 21 September 2011 at 14:32 GMT

Protesting electricians enter Farringdon site

As part of the ongoing weekly demonstrations by construction workers in defence of their pay, terms and conditions, hundreds of electricians "and one carpenter" took their protest onto the construction area of the CrossRail Farringdon site in London this morning.

Around 300 electricians assembled at Farringdon station for the protest, held an impromptu rally there and marched, led by the banner of the National Shop Stewards Network.

Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, promised a ballot of all Unite members in the construction industry who are covered by the JIB agreement that is threatened by the construction bosses. John McDonnell MP also addressed the protesters.

Electricians invade the Farringdon construction site, 21.9.11, Neil Cafferky

Electricians invade the Farringdon construction site, 21.9.11, Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

As well as the above action, an information email from 'Site Worker' this morning said:

150 electricians staged a walk-out in Newcastle.

Protests by electricians also took place in Manchester and Liverpool.

Last week Grangemouth construction project saw a one-day unofficial walk-out.

Lyndsey Oil Refinery is set to join the rank and file led action next week.

The big employers planning to pull out of the JIB are Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, MJN Colston, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall.

890 dismissal notices were issued by Balfour Beatty Engineering Services last week and new contracts are set to be imposed on December 7th which means some sparks suffer pay cuts of up to 35%.

The current rate of pay is 16-25 p/hr - the new contracts reduce rates down to 10 p/hr for the majority of the work carried out.

Additional reports posted 22.9.11:


About 20 electricians protested from 6.30am outside the Manchester Town Hall construction site on Wednesday.

The site entrances were all barred and guarded by security so it was more like a lockdown than a workplace.

Nevertheless numerous workers going out for tea or food took the Siteworker leaflets explaining the plans of the major construction companies for pay cuts enforced by mass dismissals and re-engagements.

Pride of place went to Steve Acheson's banner "Defend Trade Union Agreement - union rates for all" - fresh from a protest the day before at Fiddlers Ferry.

The previous week the sparks had protested at the Carrington paper mill site. A text was received from inside the project saying that Siteworker was the "talk of the site" showing that the tactic of going to the workplace gates is beginning to pay off.

Andy Ford, Warrington Trades Council
Construction workers protest outside Tyne tunnel site, 21.09.11, Elaine Brunskill

Construction workers protest outside Tyne tunnel site, 21.09.11, Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)


In North Tyneside around 150 construction workers protested outside the site entrance of the new Tyne tunnel. Workers from the site told us that when the contractors found out there was going to be a protest, realising it was going to be well supported, they told them they didn't need to go into work until 10am!

The protesters held up placards: "35% Pay cut - No Way" and "Spread the Action - Walk Out Now." Many of the workers were young electricians.

One of them commented: "In the past construction workers could afford mortgages, had nice homes. Now loads of us are having to live with our parents until our mid thirties."

Another commented: "If they go ahead with these wage cuts, all we'll have is an existence - not a life!"

Construction workers protest outside Tyne tunnel site, 21.09.11, photo Elaine Brunskill

Construction workers protest outside Tyne tunnel site, 21.09.11, photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Jimmy Warne, branch chair of Unite Newcastle branch 1901, explained: "Eight major contractors have served notice that they intend to walk away from national agreements.

"This morning's action is in coordination with the rank and file committee that was set up in Conway Hall, London.

"The purpose is to force the union into a national ballot. Already Balfour Beatty has served notice on over 800 sparks, telling them if they don't sign up to new agreements they'll be sacked.

"We say our response to this will be to walk out. This action will happen locally and nationally".

Jimmy went on to express his anger at Ed Miliband, who was "very quick to attack unions for striking while negotiations [on pensions] were ongoing, but stays silent while bosses attack workers' pay and conditions without negotiations."

Elaine Brunskill, Newcastle Socialist Party

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