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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 November 2011

Construction workers defend the JIB

Strike to fight pay cuts

Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial organiser
Construction workers' national protest outside the Pinnacle site, London, 9.11.11, photo Harry Smith

Construction workers' national protest outside the Pinnacle site, London, 9.11.11, photo Harry Smith   (Click to enlarge)

The pressure is building on the 'Big 7' major construction companies who want to withdraw from the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement and impose the new BESNA contracts which will cut pay by up to 35%. Unite have balloted electricians in Balfour Beatty because the company has given 1,600 electricians notice to put them on the BESNA contract from 7 December.

As we go to press, we are waiting for the ballot result.

The Socialist Party campaigned for all Balfour Beatty workers to vote yes for industrial action to start on that day. If Balfour try to stop this strike through an injunction, it should trigger a national unofficial walkout in the construction industry on 7 December.

The company is already starting to panic and has put out a leaflet calling on electricians not to vote to strike.

Balfour Beatty has an order book of 15 billion and made a clear profit of nearly 100 million in the last six months. The chief executive is paid 1 million a year but Balfour want to savage the wages of their workers, who actually help to make the profits, to the tune of 35%! This is a fight that we can win if we stick together.

Electricians all over the country are fighting back. It's clear that the national demonstration on 9 November has been a gamechanger by building up confidence among the electricians.

Over the last two weeks we've seen walkouts and stoppages at many sites, including Corus on Teesside, Ratcliffe and West Burton power stations, Saltend, and Farringdon in London. 300 electricians demonstrated in Glasgow and last week 150 sparks occupied Gratte Brothers headquarters in London, another of the Big 7.

Workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery showed two years ago that the bosses can be defeated. Those workers walked out and sparked a national unofficial stoppage to protect their NAECI agreement.

Two to three million public sector workers went on strike on 30 November to defend their pensions. The electricians support their battle. Don't let the government and the greedy employers divide workers in the public and private sectors. As the executive pay rises show, the real 'gold-plated' pensions and pay packets are in the boardrooms.

We need to unite the struggles of private and public sector workers to fight for a decent living for all. Future strike action should be coordinated across the public and private sectors.

STOP PRESS 81% of the workers balloted have voted to strike.

Come to the Unite national rank and file meeting to discuss the Balfour Beatty strike

Saturday 3 December
Woburn Suite, Hotel Russell, 1-8 Russell Square,
London WC1B 5BE

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In The Socialist 30 November 2011:

Socialist Party news and analysis

30 November shows... We can win!

Con-Dems' autumn statement: 'pain now, pain tomorrow and more pain for longer'

Fight this bosses' charter!

Who cares about home care?

The Tory solution to pensioner poverty?

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Eurozone: Into the abyss?

Egypt: Millions cast their votes in the first post-Mubarak elections

Kazakhstan: Demand Georgii Epshtein's release!

Socialist Party feature

Jarrow March for Jobs 2011

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Brighton Greens fail to fight the cuts

A message from Tommy Sheridan

'Not guilty' - support for Cardiff activists

Stoke Socialist Party's public meeting success

Leeds Against Cuts: defiant mood to fight 'daylight robbery'

Showing racism the red card

London trade unionists support electoral opposition to cuts

Socialist Party workplace news

Construction workers defend the JIB

Electricians occupy building company HQ

Usdaw: Fighting against the policies of 'social partnership'

Workplace inbrief

The Socialist, reviews & comments

When bankers were good?

Why I joined the Socialist Party


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