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North-West construction trade unionists organise
About 40 trade unionists in the construction industry came to the north-west 'rank and file' meeting in Warrington last Thursday.
First was a report from Unite organiser Dave Trubshaw on the progress of the Unite campaign against blacklisting on the Crossrail project.
The strategy is to get union recognition on Crossrail, which is actually the biggest construction project in the UK, in order to end blacklisting on the project and to safeguard and improve health and safety and conditions on the sites.
The union is therefore targeting the blacklisting companies wherever they are working, to expose to the public and the customers the fact that blacklisters are at work.
During the same week as the meeting, the Unite team, both organisers and rank and file workers had been outside construction projects across the north-west, including Burnley hospital and Manchester City FC training ground.
Dave made it clear that Unite will not accept mere verbal condemnation of blacklisting, "actions speak louder than words", and the union expects those who condemn blacklisting to prove it by taking on blacklisted workers.
Unite excecutive council member for construction John Sheridan spoke forcefully of how the Crossrail contractors had "promised the world and delivered nothing".
He pointed out how they had terminated a contract with a whole company, EIS, just to get one trade unionist - Frank Morris - off the site.
Further, that Frank was assaulted by security guards when peacefully protesting outside a Crossrail site, but that this time the assault was met by a mass protest next day of Unite members and organisers.
A construction shop steward reported that Frank Morris is getting top notch legal support in his battle for reinstatement.
I commented on how different it is in the union now, compared to four years ago when the union looked the other way on blacklisting, and we even had the spectacle of former Unite joint-general secretary Derek Simpson deflecting the issues of exclusion from employment and pay cuts down the dead end of calling for 'British jobs for British workers'.
It was a very positive meeting, although there is still work to do of course. Instead of the union members fighting with their organisation, they are pulling in the same direction.