Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15240

Posted on 17 September 2012 at 16:47 GMT

Sparks picket Crossrail Paddington site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky

Sparks picket Crossrail Paddington site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

Sparks' picket blockades Paddington Crossrail site

The epic battle between electricians and the electrical contracting companies has been running on construction sites around the country for the past 18 months. In London there have been protests from 6am almost every week.

The opening battle ended in defeat for the employers. Wage cuts of 35% and changes to terms and conditions in the form of the Building and Engineering Service National Agreement (Besna) were defeated after a determined rank and file campaign from the sparks.

However the employers have not given up the war. There have been a number of attempts to bring Besna in through the back door as well as attempts to victimise the leaders of the rank and file.

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

These attacks took a more serious turn on Friday at the Crossrail site at Paddington, west London. EIS lost the contract on site which led to the sacking of 28 of the firm's electricians, including three Unite stewards, with only a few hours' notice.

Union activists see this as a blatant attempt to drive union organisation off site. A decision was made to picket the site on Monday morning (17 September) to demand that the sacked electricians be transferred to the incoming electrical contractors.

Over 40 sparks and their supporters gathered at 6am outside the main site entrance, beside Westbourne Park bus garage, and blockaded the site.

Site security

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky

photo Neil Cafferky

Bollards and plastic barriers were scavenged from the site entrance to assemble a makeshift barricade.

A game of cat and mouse went on for 15 minutes between security and pickets. Security would charge in and pull pieces of the barricade out.

Picketers would then plug the gap with other material lying about. The game finally came to an end when a number of picketers sat down on top of the barricade, forcing security to line up behind the barricade with their arms folded! Traffic was delayed on the busy Great Western Road as numerous lorries were refused entry and eventually turned away.

The picket caused such a commotion that bus drivers from the nearby garage came out. One driver, seeing the Unite flags and clearly still reliving their recent strike victory, rushed over to the picket and asked: "Are we on strike again?".

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

As the picket was winding down, one security guard attempted to photo the registration number of the picketers' van.

With memories of blacklisting and victimisation fresh in the minds of sparks, this was an extremely provocative move.

A number of picketers, including Rob Williams from the National Shop Stewards Network, blocked the security guard from taking pictures.

In frustration the security guard shoved Rob Williams against the van bonnet. This provoked a furious reaction from the pickets, forcing the security guard to beat a hasty retreat back behind the police.

Scandalously the ranking police officer then defended the behaviour of the security guard! Pickets were quick to point out that if the situation had been reversed the police would not be so forgiving.

A number of Unite officials met with Crossrail project managers to discuss the sackings. At the time of writing, no progress had been made and plans are under way to picket again on Tuesday at 6:15am.

Neil Cafferky
Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 17 September 2012 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:

Electricians:

triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangleCrossrail action in defence of victimised union rep

triangleLondon Crossrail workers walk out

triangleCrossrail sparks get organised

triangleWorkplace news in brief

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

Police:

triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

Besna:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleSpied on by the state and bosses

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNSSN pre-TUC rally

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