Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/13006

Posted on 19 October 2011 at 18:22 GMT

Construction protests continue and Unite declares strike ballot

This week's protest at Blackfriars Balfour Beatty site in London began in full darkness at 6:30am this morning (19.10.11).

Along with the cold weather it was a sign winter is just around the corner. Despite the chilly weather though, the struggle between construction workers and the 'big seven' electrical contractors rages on as hot as ever.

These companies want to withdraw from the JIB national agreement. Balfour Beatty has been targeted because over 1,600 of their electricians have been given notice that the new inferior BESNA contracts will be imposed on them. This could mean a 35% pay cut.

Blockade

Pickets arrived in a determined mood and a blockade of the site was launched. This led to scuffles with police throughout the protest.

It appears that a number of workers refused to go into work, while many who did, took leaflets in with them.

A group of about 60 protesters blocked a supplier's entrance for a few hours, ensuring that some deliveries were missed.

A number of speakers addressed the protest including Chris Baugh, deputy general secretary of the PCS union who brought solidarity from his union and emphasised the need for public and private sector workers to take action together on 30th November and in the future.

Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), Clare Laker-Mansfield from Youth Fight for Jobs and UCATT General Secretary candidate Mick Dooley were also among the speakers.

The confidence of workers had been boosted prior to the protest by a meeting the previous day in Leeds.

At that meeting were Unite construction officials, shop stewards from across the country and representatives of the London rank and file body. The meeting agreed to ballot workers at Balfour Beatty sites for strike action.

Building for strike action

This is a big step forward in the fight to defend construction workers' terms and conditions. The workers can build on the huge success of their weekly protests as a platform to launch action that will shut down all sites operated by Balfour Beatty.

They now have the task of getting the biggest possible yes vote for a strike. This can be done firstly by getting as many workers as possible 'on site' into the union and at the same time convincing them to vote yes to strike action.

Those workers who joined the protest today can go back into work tomorrow and begin arguing the case for action.

Many workers who did go into work at Blackfriars today said they would vote for strike action if a ballot paper was put in front of them.

If a friendly, patient attitude is taken by pickets to workers who have not yet joined the struggle then there is every reason to be confident that they can be won over to the idea of taking action.

As Rob Williams pointed out in his speech, the worker who crosses the picket line today could well be the worker who comes out on strike tomorrow.

This point was echoed by a Unite official in the final speech to pickets when he said that the main enemy was not the workers still on the sites but Balfour Beatty itself.

It is vital that Unite the union backs up its promises with swift action. Electricians and others will return to Blackfriars next week to protest.

Unite official Harry Cowap will be meeting with workers on site that day to encourage them to attend the national day of protest in London on 9th November.

That meeting could be more important if it becomes part of a campaign to secure a yes vote for industrial action and begin planning for the shutdown of the site.

Similar meetings on every single Balfour Beatty site across the country would be a big step towards defeating the attacks of the employers.

Neil Cafferky

Manchester

Dozens of electricians protested again in Manchester this morning at the NG Baileys town hall site.

The protest was buoyed by news of the 9th November day of action, and that Unite will be balloting specific Balfour Beatty sites.

Even a limited ballot can give enormous impetus to this struggle from below against all the Dirty Seven.

Next week the north-west protest returns to the Balfour's Carrington paper mill site, where last week all electrical work was halted for a day.

Since then, we've heard that three workers have been dismissed. Rank & File activists will take a strong line against employers who victimise.

But this is a chance for Unite to demonstrate its role as a massive private sector union capable of defending workers against brutal employers.

Unite should give full support to next week's Carrington protest, mobilise across the north-west for the biggest possible turnout and provide union campaign resources on the day.

The employers on the site are disunited. The workforce on site is supportive and there is great scope to build on last week's protest and as well as halting work, escalate the numbers on the demonstration.

Next protest: Wednesday 26 October, 6.30-9.30am, Carrington paper mill, Carrington

Hugh Caffrey

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 October 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Construction:

triangleCarillion and the construction industry

triangleFerrybridge: Workers down tools over unpaid wages

triangleCarillion crisis: demand action to save jobs and services

triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

Unite:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleMini-strike wave continues and intensifies

triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangleSix months on - still no justice for Grenfell

Strike:

triangleRMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

triangleHackney school cleaners strike

triangleHome care workers to strike

Manchester:

triangleNSSN pre-TUC rally

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The protests in Iran

Protest:

triangleVictory! Trump's UK visit cancelled by fear of protests

Union:

triangleTunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

Electricians:

triangleCrossrail action in defence of victimised union rep

Rob Williams:

triangleMixed-fleet workers show strikes get results

Shop Stewards:

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNSSN conference

UCATT:

triangleLetter from blacklisted construction workers

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

17/1/18

Women

Socialist Party women's meeting brings together members to share experiences

17/1/18

Newham

Packed Newham meeting against academies

17/1/18

Liverpool

Lobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

17/1/18

Barking

Heating scandal on east London estate

17/1/18

Policing

Undercover policing legal challenge

17/1/18

Woolwich

No to the Woolwich monster block

17/1/18

Union

Workplace news in brief

17/1/18

Union

PCS union 2018 elections - nominate the left slate for a continued fighting leadership

17/1/18

Hackney

Hackney school cleaners strike

17/1/18

RMT

RMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

17/1/18

Yorkshire

Ferrybridge: Workers down tools over unpaid wages

17/1/18

Cuts

We must fight all council cuts!

17/1/18

Socialist Party

Southern Socialist Party conference

16/1/18

Birmingham

Home care workers to strike

12/1/18

Waltham Forest

Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2